The Government is taking various initiatives to improve justice delivery system in the country and for improving justice delivery and legal reforms and steps to reduce pendency in courts from 15 to 3 years by 2012. These are as under:
National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms: The Government has ‘in principle’ approved setting up of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms. The National Mission would help implementing the two major goals of
(i) increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system
(ii) enhancing accountability at all levels through structural changes and setting performance standards and facilitating enhancement of capacities for achieving such performance standards.
The Law Minister has on 28th April 2011 personally written to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the High Courts on the launching of a campaign mode approach for pendency reduction and filling up of vacancies in Subordinate & High Courts. The campaign will be from June-December, 2011 and after a review, will be extended for another 6 months.
Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010: To bring about greater transparency and accountability in the higher judiciary, the Government has introduced a Bill in the Parliament to lay down judicial standards, to enable declaration of assets and liabilities by the Judges, and to establish a mechanism to enable investigation and follow-up action into complaints against judges. The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on 1st December, 2010 and is presently under its consideration.
13th Finance Commission grant: With the objective of improving justice delivery, the Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC) has recommended a grant of Rs. 5000 crore to be utilized over a period of five years up to 2010-2015. An amount of Rs.1000 crore has been released to State Governments in the year 2010-11. This grant is aimed at providing support to improve judicial outcomes. Many States have already formulated State Litigation Policies as per the requirement for further release of TFC grant.
National Litigation Policy : The Government has already announced a National Litigation Policy effective from 1st July, 2010 to to reduce government litigation in Courts so that valuable court time would be spent in resolving other pending cases so as to achieve the goal in the national legal mission to reduce average pendency time from 15 years to 3 years.
ICT enablement of courts: The Government has implemented a central sector scheme for computerization of the District and Subordinate Courts (e-Courts project) in the country and for upgradation of the ICT infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, at a cost of Rs. 935 crore for the first phase which will connect 14,249 courts in the country including video conferencing facilities.
Access to Justice for the marginalized section: Provision of legal aid enables the marginalized sections of the society in accessing justice. To strengthen Legal aid authorities a sum of Rs 200 crores had been provided under the TFC grants. The mission launched for release of under trial prisoners last year had appreciable results and is continuing. In the period 26 January 2010 to 31 May 2011, 562379 under trials have been released on bail, 77940 have been discharged, 68744 convicted, adding to a total of 709081 cases that have been disposed off. Software to trace cases of under trials by courts is also under consideration for integration into the e-courts software.
Gram Nyayalayas : The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 was enacted to provide for the establishment of Gram Nyayalayas, a new tier of courts, at the grass-root level for the purpose of providing access to justice to the citizens at their doorsteps and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen. The Act came into force on 2 October 2009 and enables the State Governments to establish Gram Nyayalayas at Intermediate Panchayat levels.
The Central Government provides assistance to the State Governments for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas(Rs. 18 lakhs/court) and Rs. 3.20 lakhs per court per annum for the first 3 years towards recurring expenses. About 144 Gram Nyaylalays have been set up(notified) in the States of Madhya Pradesh (89), Rajasthan (45), Orissa (1), Maharashtra (9), till date of which 47 are operational – 40 in Madhya Pradesh, 1 in Orissa, and 6 in Maharashtra. Out of the budgeted Rs. 150 crores for Gram Nyayalayas, Rs. 20.92 crores have been disbursed to the 4 states which have notified the Nyayalayas.
Family Courts: The Government has pursued with the States the matter of setting up of Family Courts, providing 50% of the cost of construction and Rs 5 lakh annually. 211 such courts have been set up in 23 states.
Increase in the age of retirement of Judges of High Courts: The Government has introduced ‘the Constitution (One Hundred and Fourteenth) Amendment Bill, 2010’ in the Lok Sabha on 25th August, 2010 for increasing the age of retirement of Judges of the High Courts from 62 to 65 years. It aims at retaining the judges for three more years which would avoid occurrence of new vacancies on account of superannuation and result in continuance of judges to clear the backlog of cases in the High Courts. The Bill has been examined by the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice is to be slated for discussion in the Parliament.
Infrastructure Development at Subordinate courts: In the financial year 2011-12, the allocation for the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Infrastructure Development has been increased 5 folds from Rs.100 crores to Rs. 500 crores.
Setting up of a Legal e-Library: The Government is finalizing the setting up a ‘National Legal e-library’ focusing on 933 law schools in India. ,It is expected to benefit the students and practitioners of Law. It is proposed to get operationalised on 15 August 2011.
Rajiv Gandhi Advocate’s Training Scheme: The Rajiv Gandhi Adhivakta Prashikshan Yojna to be launched on 27June 2011, will select about 10 practicing advocates from each state and impart a two-month long professional training by a National Law School/College – to them and encourage them to to serve the need of law professionals at the grass root level.
Creation of All India Judicial services: The proposed to set up an All India Judicial Service is awaiting Cabinet approval. This service is expected to attract the best of talent to the judiciary.
Comprehensive Electoral Reforms:
• The Government has held 6 Regional Consultation on Electoral Reforms. The seventh is scheduled on 12 June 2011 in Guwahati to be followed By the National Consultation in New Delhi on 2-3 July 2011. Following this, Comprehensive Amendments will be brought about to the Electoral System.
• The Government has also passed legislation and has enabled NRI Voting.
• The Maximum limits of Election Expenses have been increased for both Parliament and Assembly Elections.