Upgrading judicial infrastructure
The issues of pendency, delays and backlogs can be tackled to large extent by strengthening the physical, digital, and human infrastructure of the courts.
An inadequately supported judiciary not only impacts the Gross Domestic Product of a country but also costs it foreign investments, Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana said last week. Addressing a gathering at Aurangabad, the CJI said that several courts function out of dilapidated buildings and rented properties; only 5% of court complexes have basic medical aid; 26% of the courts don’t have separate toilets for women, and 16% of the courts don’t even have toilets for men; and nearly 50% of court complexes don’t have a library. Justice Ramana added that he has sent a proposal to the Union government for establishing the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC), which envisages the collection of actionable data on the requirement and upgradation of court infrastructure.
A 2019 study by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy (Building Better Courts; Surveying the Infrastructure of India’s District Courts) found that of all states and Union Territories, only the district courts in Delhi and Chandigarh fulfill the infrastructure guidelines set by the National Court Management Systems Committee in 2012. In July, the Union Cabinet extended the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary (in operation since 1993-94) till March 31, 2026, during which ₹9,000 crore would be spent with the Union government’s share of this being ₹5,357 crore. But another Vidhi report found that at the state level, the implementation of the scheme is marred by the poor coordination between different departments of the state governments involved in building judicial infrastructure.
A sound judiciary is essential for enforcing laws and creating trust in the economy. A slow judiciary with a large number of pending cases makes people apprehensive. The issues of pendency, delays and backlogs can be tackled to large extent by strengthening the physical, digital, and human infrastructure of the courts. It is up to the government to review CSS and remove roadblocks delaying the upgrade of judicial infrastructure.