Nitish to PM Modi: Celebrate embrace with big Bihar funding; tele law facility opens

CM Kumar apart, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, CJI-designate Justice Dipak Mishra, deputy CM Sushil Modi and Patna HC chief justice Rajendra Menon, were present at the tele law facility launch, in Patna on Sunday.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2017 19:12 IST
Subhash Pathak
Subhash Pathak
Hindustan Times, Patna
CM Nitish Kumar,JD (U)-BJP government,Bihar funding
CM Nitish Kumar, law minister RS Prasad, CJI-designate Justice Dipak Mishra and others, in Patna on Sunday. (AP Dube/HT photo)

Chief minister Nitish Kumar, on Sunday, urged the PM Modi-led NDA government at the centre to demonstrate its generosity towards Bihar, to celebrate the coming together of his party, the JD (U) and the BJP, to form a new government in Bihar, late last month.

“If we have come together, it should also show (by way of disbursement of funds to Bihar). Mere Rs 50-60-crore will not do, in a big state like ours. When we came to power in Bihar in 2005, the state’s budget size was a mere Rs 25,000 crore. Now, it has grown to Rs 1,40,000-crore in 2017-18,” he added.

Kumar was speaking at a function here to mark the launching in Bihar of the centre’s Tele Law facility, offered through common service centres (CSCs), in the presence of Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. He was also responding to Prasad’s offer of Rs 50-70 crore for the benefit of Bihar’s judiciary.

The CM indicated the amount suggested was meagre. “The state has already offered Rs 169 core for a new building for the Patna high court. But meeting the requirements of the subordinate judiciary called for much bigger expenses,” he said.

The Central government has launched Tele Law facility at 500 CSCs across the state with the help of legal volunteers at panchayat level, in a bid to provide free online legal assistance to those who could not afford to pay for it, . Bihar is fourth state to have the Tele Law facility, after UP, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.

Lauding the national legal services authority (NLSA) for launching the facility, the CM exhorted the centre to extend the service to more CSCs. He said the state had also been using the online facility to usher in transparency in its delivery of services and it had yielded tangible results, particularly in public grievances redressal.

Citing records of disputes pouring in at the public grievances redressal cells, Kumar said land related disputes accounted for 60% of the petitions. The ongoing digitisation of updated land survey and settlement records would help the authorities resolve the disputes in a big way, he added.

Earlier, the union minister Prasad said it was good that the inauguration was taking place at a time when the BJP and JD (U) had come together. “It will be a big step forward to ensure access to justice for all,” he said, adding, the Centre had offered Rs 157 crore to Bihar in the last three years, for development of infrastructure for the judiciary .

Prasad said Nyaya Mitras would be appointed in large numbers to help the people avail free legal aid from the CSCs, which would focus on resolving cases pending in courts for more than 10 years. “The CSCs will work as facilitation centres. They would serve as people’s interface with the police, administration and judiciary,” he said.

Expressing his concern over heaps of pending cases, Prasad called upon the judges and legal bodies to reduce the burden of old cases. He said over 1.34 lakh cases were pending in the Patna high court alone, of which more than 18,000 were pending for 10 years or more.

“Similarly, the subordinate judiciary is burdened with about 22 lakh cases, of which 2.07 lakh are more than 10 years old,” he said, while urging the judiciary to use digital facility to dispose of the cases faster.

Senior judge of Supreme Court Dipak Mishra, who, as announced by Prasad, would to take over as Chief Justice of India, said the number of para legal volunteers in Bihar would be increased to 4,000 as against the existing strength of 1,800 by the month-end.

Their honorarium will also be hiked to Rs 500 per day vis-à-vis Rs 250 per day at the CSCs.

Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi outlined crime, corruption and land disputes as the big challenges for Bihar. “With the help of judiciary, many anti-socials were sent behind the bars through speedy trial. Now, time has come to use more and more technology to achieve the dream of crime and corruption-free Bihar,” he added.

Patna high court chief justice Rajendra Menon said it was a historic occasion in the bid to make affordable and quality legal service available to all. “We are committed to it,” he added.

Many senior judges of Patna high court, union law secretary Snehlata Srivsatav and senior lawyers were present during the programme.

First Published: Aug 06, 2017 19:12 IST