Justice NV Ramana.

“Baffling” that improvement of judicial infrastructure being carried out in an ad-hoc manner: CJI; says proposal to establish National Judicial Infrastructure Authority sent to Union Govt

THE Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana Saturday said that he had sent a proposal to the Union Government to establish a National Judicial Infrastructure Authority (NJIA) even as he expressed bafflement that the improvement and maintenance of judicial infrastructure were still being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner.

“Judicial infrastructure is important for improving access to justice and to meet the growing demands of the public that is more aware of its rights and is developing economically, socially, and culturally. It is baffling to note that the improvement and maintenance of judicial infrastructure are still being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner”, CJI Ramana said.

He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the annexe building of the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench.

The CJI urged the Union Law Minister who was also present at the ceremony to expedite the process and ensure that the proposal to create an NJIAI with statutory backing was taken up in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

“Institutionalising the mechanism for augmenting and creating state-of-the-art judicial infrastructure is the best gift that we can think of giving to our people and our country in this 75th year of our Independence”, CJI said.

He said that the total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country was 24,280 while the number of court halls available was 20,143 (including 620 rented halls). Besides, 26% of court complexes did not have separate toilets for women while 16% did not have men’s toilets.

In addition, he pointed out that only 54% of court complexes had purified drinking water facilities and just 5% of court complexes had basic medical facilities. Only 32% of courtrooms had separate Record Rooms. While only 51% of court complexes had a library and just 27% of court rooms had computers placed on the judge’s dais with a video-conferencing facility.

“These are the hard facts”, CJI said.

“If we want a different outcome from the judicial system, we cannot continue to work in these circumstances,” he added.

“An integral aspect, in this regard, is the financial autonomy of the judiciary. I have, therefore, sent a proposal for the establishment of the National Judicial Infrastructure Authority to the Ministry of Law and Justice”, he said, adding, “Courts are extremely essential for any society that is governed by the rule of law. Court buildings are not merely structures made of mortar and bricks. Rather, they actively assure the constitutional guarantee of the right to justice”.

The courts in India, CJI said, had repeatedly upheld the rights and freedoms of individuals. They had stood up whenever individuals or society were at the receiving end of executive excesses. “It is an assurance that the seeker of justice, howsoever weak, need not worry about the might of the state.”