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Judicial infrastructure key for improving access to justice, says CJI

CJI Ramana was speaking at the inauguration of two wings of the annexe building at the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court. File. | Photo Credit: PTI
Special Correspondent Mumbai 23 October 2021 14:36 IST
Updated: 23 October 2021 20:45 IST

Chief Justice Ramana urges Law Minister to ensure plan for NJIAI is taken up in Parliament

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Saturday urged Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju to ensure that the proposal to create National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (NJIAI) with statutory backing is taken up in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

The CJI was present along with Mr. Rijiju, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and judges of the Supreme Court to inaugurate the B and C wings of the High Court Annexe Building at Aurangabad.

Chief Justice Ramana again stressed on the need for NJIAI and said, “Good judicial infrastructure for courts in India has always been an afterthought. It is because of this mindset that courts in India still operate from dilapidated structures, making it difficult to effectively perform their function. 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 is still being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner.”


Mr. Ramana went on to present hard facts and said, “The total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country is 24,280 and the number of court halls available is 20,143 (including 620 rented halls); 26% of court complexes do not have separate ladies’ toilets and 16% do not have gents’ toilets; only 54% of court complexes have purified drinking water facility; only 5% of court complexes have basic medical facilities; only 32% of court rooms have separate record rooms; only 51% of court complexes have a library; only 27% of courtrooms have computer placed on the Judge’s dais with video-conferencing facility. According to international research published in 2018, failure to deliver timely justice cost the country as much as 9% of annual GDP.”

The CJI mentioned that the need for an additional court complex at the Aurangabad Bench was identified as early as in 2011, at a meeting convened by the then senior-most judge in the Bench. He added, “That it has taken more than 10 years for this vision to be implemented is extremely worrisome. This is not the fault of any institution or organ of the State but is emblematic of a deeper structural problem that has plagued judicial infrastructure development in our country since Independence.”

Mr. Ramana also said one must never feel hesitant to approach courts and remarked, “It is high time that we make efforts to remove the taboo associated with approaching courts for the affirmation of their rights. The common man deals with multiple legal issues during his lifetime. One must never feel hesitant to approach courts. After all, people’s faith in the judiciary is the biggest strength of democracy,” the CJI noted.