“Environment of some District Courts such that lady advocates feel apprehensive about entering courtrooms”: CJI calls for inclusive judicial infrastructure

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The Chief Justice of India Justice (CJI) NV Ramana today stated that there is a need for inclusive infrastructural reforms in the Judicial system of India.

While addressing the joint conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers, he remarked that, “The environment of some District Courts is such, even lady advocates feel apprehensive about entering court rooms, let alone female clients.”

The CJI said that there is a severe gap between the existing infrastructure and the projected justice needs of the people, adding that since courts are looked upon as "temples of justice", they should be welcoming and carry the requisite dignity and aura, but as of now the environment of some district courts are not welcoming and inclusive.

The CJI said that in order to to standardise and improve judicial infrastructure, he has been focusing on the creation of special purpose vehicles, namely, the National Judicial Infrastructure Authority and the State Judicial Infrastructure Authorities in the lines of National Legal Services Authority and State Legal Services Authorities.

He insisted that the issue is not about funds and acknowledged that the Union Government has been making reasonable budgetary allocation through its Centrally Sponsored Scheme for this purpose. He further said that the data since the inception of the scheme in 1993-94 suggests that allocated funds remain underutilised due to procedural difficulties.

Speaking of the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation, the CJI said that it is not aimed at usurping the powers of any government but will have representation from all the stakeholders. He said, “It must however be acknowledged that it is the judiciary which understands best its own needs and requirements.”

Indianisation of judiciary:

The CJI today reiterated that he is a strong proponent of Indianisation of judiciary and said that by Indianisation he means increasing accessibility, by moulding the system to suit the needs and sensibilities of the Indian population.  

“Indianisation is a multidimensional concept. It calls for inclusivity, providing access to justice, removal of language barriers, reforms in practice and procedure, development of  infrastructure, filling up of vacancies, augmenting the strength of the judiciary and so on.”

Vacancies in judiciary:

The CJI highlighted that as on today, there are 1104 sanctioned posts of High Court Judges out of which there are 388 vacancies. He said that it has been his endeavour to fill judicial vacancies since the day one.

".....the collegium has made 180 recommendations, for appointments in various High Courts during the last year. Out of these recommendation, 126 appointments have been made.... 50 proposals are still awaiting approval by the Government of India. High Courts have sent around 100 names to the Government of India for elevation which is yet to reach the Supreme Court," he pointed out

He urged the Chief Ministers to extend wholehearted co-operation to the Chief Justices, in their endeavor to strengthen the district judiciary. The CJI pointed out that during the last CJ-CM conference in 2016, the sanctioned strength of judges was 20,811 and that it has now increased to 24,112 at the rate of 16% in six years.

“On the other hand, in the corresponding period, pendency in district courts has gone up from 2 crore 65 lakhs to 4 crore 11 lakhs, which is an increase of 54.64%. This data shows how inadequate the increase in the sanctioned strength is.”

The CJI pointed out that as per sanctioned strength, we have just around 20 judges per 10 lakh population and remarked it was alarmingly low.