New Delhi: With several courts functioning from premises that have insufficient space or are in a dilapidated condition without basic amenities, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju will meet state law ministers next month to make a fresh push to improve judicial infrastructure in the country.

Rijiju announced the proposed meeting days after Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said that judicial infrastructure was important for improving access to justice but it was baffling to note that its improvement and maintenance was being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner.

“Judicial infrastructure is one of the agenda items for the meeting … It is my responsibility to take the state governments on board,” Rijiju told reporters here on Tuesday.

The infrastructure for high courts and lower courts is the domain of the state governments.

“We are faced with certain hard facts like several courts do not have proper facilities. Some courts function out of dilapidated buildings. Judicial infrastructure is important for improving access to justice,” the CJI had said.

CJI Ramana was speaking on Saturday at the inauguration of two wings of the annexe building at the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court.

Sources in the Law Ministry said the proposed meeting between Rijiju and state law ministers was planned before the CJI made these remarks on judicial infrastructure.

In July this year, the Union Cabinet had approved a five-year extension for a centrally sponsored scheme for developing infrastructure for the judiciary.

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary has been in operation since 1993-94.

An official statement had then said that in the extended term, it would continue from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026 during which Rs 9,000 crore would be spent with the central share of Rs 5,357 crore, including Rs 50 crore for the Gram Nyayalaya Scheme.

Several courts are still functioning on rented premises with insufficient space and some in a dilapidated condition without basic amenities, the statement pointed out.

The lack of residential accommodation to all the judicial officers also adversely affects their work and performance, it had observed.

The present government has remained sensitive to the needs of providing well-equipped judicial infrastructure to the subordinate judiciary to facilitate administration of justice in a manner that allows easy access and timely delivery of justice to all.

Adequacy of judicial infrastructure is critical for the reduction of pendency and backlog of cases in courts, it had said.

The decision will help in the construction of 3,800 court halls and 4,000 residential units (both new and ongoing projects) for judicial officers of district and subordinate courts, 1,450 lawyer halls, 1,450 toilets complexes and 3,800 digital computer rooms, it had said.

Though the primary responsibility of infrastructure development for the subordinate judiciary rests with the state governments, the central government through the scheme augments the resources of states for the construction of court buildings and residential quarters for judicial officers in all the states and UTs, the statement had said.

The present proposal allows additional activities like the construction of lawyer halls, toilets complexes and digital computer rooms.

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