Supreme Court Judge Justice N V Ramana on Saturday stressed the need for modernisation of judicial infrastructure and called for setting up of a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation for this.
“Talking of impediments in the path of modernisation, financial constraints must never come in the path of progress. There is a need for the Centre and States to co-operate and create a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation, as a one-time measure, to cater to the need for judicial infrastructure in the country. Such a corporation would bring the uniformity and standardization required to revolutionize judicial infrastructure”, Justice Ramana, who is next in line to be Chief Justice of India, said at the inauguration of the new building of the Bombay High Court in Goa.
Justice Ramana pointed out that the ideals of “access to justice” and “speedy justice” form the bedrock of rule of law and that “for access to justice, there needs to be sufficient infrastructure to cater to the ever-rising number of disputes”.
“Strengthening judicial infrastructure is the most important tool to reduce pendency of cases and clear the backlog”, he said and added that “the understanding of judicial infrastructure has to transcend beyond the issues of pendency, vacancy or the number of courtrooms. It should involve modernisation, upgradation and creating a “barrier free-citizen friendly nvironment”. We can assert true accessibility when the person with the maximum disadvantage can still knock on the doors of the court of justice”.
Speaking of the infrastructure improvements, he said that “after independence, the judiciary in general, has not progressed at an equal pace in comparison with other branches of the State. The judiciary is usually considered rigid in its ways of working due to the procedural requirements. While science and technology have affected all walks of life, integrating the same into the judicial system has been an uphill task.”
Justice Ramana rued the pitiable condition of many courts and said “although, every district has courts, however, I must state that they need to be updated to enable them to meet the…challenge” of access to justice and speedy justice.
“We have all witnessed courts operating from dilapidated old structures and rented premises, without proper record rooms or even staff. There are premises without washrooms, waiting rooms, creche services, or disabled friendly infrastructure for litigants and lawyers. Situations like this have an adverse impact on the qualitative dispensation of justice”, he said adding it is therefore “important to concentrate…efforts on modernization of judiciary”.
Justice Ramana also cautioned that such ‘T must be undertaken after a careful stakeholder analysis and must portray the needs of changing times. He called upon scholars and experts to provide a sustainable and inclusive model for modernization of the country’s judicial infrastructure.