New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi strongly advocated qualitative Judicial Reforms and emphasized that grading of various courts based on standard parameters should be developed for quality of judgment.
Shri Narendra Modi said that the judicial process and dispensation of justice mechanism requires a paradigm shift. In order to sustain peoples’ faith in the system and quality of judgments, our archaic laws and procedures need a fresh relook, particularly those governing judicial process and procedures.
While speaking at Conference of Chief Ministers of States & Chief Justices of High Courts here, Shri Modi referring to the status of implementation of Gram Nyayalayas in the country reiterated his fear about the effectiveness of its functioning and justice delivery at affordable costs. Instead he voiced his views on carrying out of comprehensive study on the status of Taluka level courts. While thousands of crores of monetary fund remain unutilized for Gram Nyayalayas, Central Government should review its decision and provide adequate funds to the State Government to strengthen the Taluka courts, he urged. He also mentioned that mobile Taluka courts should be run for remote villages, once in a month. Shri Narendra Modi made a number of suggestions in the conference which were highly appreciated by the participants.
The Government of Gujarat has taken an alternate route to strengthening and extending the services of Taluka Courts, he said. To fulfill a vision of having at least one court in each of the 225 Talukas in Gujarat, 183 courts of Civil Judge have been made functional. Regretting the decision of UPA Government for closing the scheme of Fast Track Courts, Shri Narendra Modi stressed that such initiative to deliver justice faster has had a great impact in deepening peoples’ faith in the justice delivery system. Since 2011, the Gujarat Government has been continuing with Fast Track Courts on its own resources without assistance from the Centre. Gujarat established 166 fast track courts. Total 4 lakh cases were disposed of by these courts. Now, only 43 Courts are functioning without Central government assistance. He urged the central government to rethink and provide more funds to the states to establish fast track courts.
Shri Modi stated that in earlier occasions he made number of suggestions like setting up of Evening Court, extension of working hours in a week and cutting down of vacation period etc. of which some of the suggestions were considered. Evening courts were set up first in Gujarat in 2006 and the functioning of the same has been highly satisfactory. Total 102 Evening courts set up in Gujarat disposed of 9.06 lakh cases within short period. It has been so successful that in many of these courts, there are no cases and therefore 14 evening courts have been closed, as directed by High Court.
Good governance and grievance redressal are essential to minimize litigation while conciliation, mediation, legal literacy and awareness empower the litigants. Various alternate mechanisms of dispute resolution and speedy trial give cumulative effect in reducing the pendency. Shri Modi suggested a TV channel on the lines of Lok Sabha/ Rajya Sabha TV channels for disseminating legal awareness and educating people on various important legal issues.
Lok Adalats and legal literacy camps are organized by the Gujarat State Legal Authority, where services of retired Judges are utilized. From its inception till the end of 2012, 1,30,588 Lok Adalats have been organized in which 63,28,452 cases have been disposed off. Shri Modi suggested creation of separate non-judicial management cadre for the administration of court affairs and facilitating the judicial officers to concentrate on judicial functions. He cited the example of hospital management where non medical managers are efficiently managing the hospitals. Pointing out the need to reduce time judicial officers spend on administrative functions, the Gujarat Chief Minister said that the Government of Gujarat has sanctioned various posts of Court Managers at different levels. He also mentioned about development of expertise among judges on specific matters and allotment of cases should be decided accordingly for the speedy disposal and quality of judgments.
While drawing attention about complex matters involving economic offence, cyber crimes etc. he not only suggested specialization but emphasized on scientific training of judicial officers and advocates. The Gujarat Forensic Sciences University is a first of its kind in the world for conducting scientific investigation and subsequent court testimony by the experts to strengthen the justice delivery system more towards certainty.
Information technology has a greater role to play in ensuring efficiency and transparency. The Gujarat Chief Minister emphasized the use of ICT and computerization of courts. Shri Modi appraised that during last five years, the State Government has invested heavily in the computerization of courts. Gujarat High Court is fully computerized; many of the district courts are also computerized and most of district courts have the Gujarat State Wide Area Network (GSWAN). Gujarat has set up e-library for the benefit of members of the Bar in all Talukas of the State.
With the use of ICT, Shri Modi suggested that we should make available some of the good judgments in public domain for mutual benefits of society.
Besides providing a point-to-point Video Conferencing system in 13 District Courts by connecting them with concerned jails, a multi-point video conferencing system is installed in the City Civil court, Ahmedabad under model E-Court project.
Focusing on judicial reforms, Gujarat CM apprised that the state government has established a Juvenile Justice Board and a Child Welfare Committee in every district to deal effectively with cases pertaining to juveniles in conflict with the law. He suggested that the states run number of protection homes, old age home etc. which could be housed in one complex to provide family atmosphere for all the inmates. Extensive data bank can be developed to track the missing children through a dedicated website.
Shri Modi stressed the need to carry out legal processes in local and vernacular languages so as to cut down on intricacies making judicial procedures incomprehensible to the public. He further emphasized on creation of forum where judiciary and executive can deliberate on discrepancy in policy matters creating unnecessary litigations.
Gujarat Ministers Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasma, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court Shri Bhaskar Bhattacharya and senior officers from Gujarat Government participated in the conference, which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister and attended by Union Law Minister, Chief Justice and other Judges of Supreme Court, eminent jurists, Chief Justices of High Courts along with officials from the Government of India and State Governments.