Legislation will soon be adopted in Parliament, says Veerappa Moily

Legislation will soon be adopted in Parliament to create special Benches in High Courts for dealing exclusively with cases related to commercial transactions and investments, Union Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily said here on Tuesday.

It is a move that will seek to allay the perception that the climate in the country is not conducive to doing business, Mr. Moily said, while inaugurating training programmes for public prosecutors and judicial officers at the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy.

The relevant Bill has been approved by a Parliamentary Standing Committee and will soon be brought before the House, he said. He also felt that India could be developed as a preferred destination for international arbitration by introducing some amendments to Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

“In comparison with Singapore or Hong Kong, we are not an attractive destination now in the field of international mediation, but we have an opportunity to be a preferred destination,” Mr. Moily said, and suggested that Chennai could become one such centre.

Throwing further light on the Union government's plans in the legal domain, he said that a proposal was now before Cabinet to spend Rs.7,000 crore for improving infrastructure in subordinate courts.

With a view to making technology part and parcel of the judicial system, he said the future could see ‘e-courts' or ‘paperless courts' with infusion of adequate technology, and spoke of a Rs.935-crore road map in this regard.

Mr. Moily expressed concern over falling conviction rates as well as the outcome of a recent survey by the National Judicial Academy that said that the judiciary, at present, was responding only to five per cent of the justice-seeking public. “We need to be concerned about this so that the people don't resort to other means.”

He praised the Madras High Court for taking “proactive measures” to implement judicial reforms and the national litigation policy.

Earlier, Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal of the Madras High Court outlined the steps taken by the High Court and the State government to implement the Finance Commission's recommendations, for which Tamil Nadu had got Rs.252.43 crore to be spent in five years from 2010. “The Madras High Court is a pioneer in implementing the recommendations of the 13{+t}{+h} Finance Commission.”

Thanks to the High Court's efforts to reduce pendency, no criminal appeal was pending in the Court relating to cases under Section 302 of IPC (murder). The pendency under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) was also low, Mr. Justice Eqbal said, adding that as on January 31 this year, only 1,812 corruption cases were pending in all courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

State Law Minister Durai Murugan said the State government gave great importance to the judiciary's requirements.

“The government sanctioned over Rs.300 crore for new court buildings and quarters for judges. Tamil Nadu is the only State which has spent such a huge sum for this purpose,” he said.

Madras High Court judges Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla delivered special addresses. Justice P Jyothimani, Justice D Murugesan and State Home Secretary K Gnanadesikan spoke on the occasion.