New Delhi : 120 fresh Judges were appointed in the High Courts – High Court of Bombay(6), Allahabad(17), Gujarat(7), Karnataka(6), Andhra Pradesh(2), Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh(2), Kerala(12), Rajasthan(8), Punjab and Haryana(6), Calcutta(8), Orissa(4), Telangana(7),Madras(5), Chhattisgarh(3), Himachal Pradesh(1),Jharkhand(4), Gauhati (6), Delhi(2), Patna(6) and Madhya Pradesh(8).
- 63 Additional Judges were made permanent in High Courts – High Court of Allahabad (10), Karnataka(20), Calcutta(1), Chhattisgarh(1), Punjab and Haryana (10), Bombay(10), Kerala(7), Uttarakhand (1) and Gauhati (3).
- Tenure of 02 Additional Judges tenure was extended – High Court of Bombay (1) and Gauhati (1).
- 11 Chief Justices were appointed – High Courts of Allahabad (2), Andhra Pradesh(1), Calcutta(1), Guwhati (1), Gujarat(1), Karnataka(1), Madhya Pradesh(1), Madras(1), Manipur(1) and Telangana(1).
- 06 Chief Justice was transferred from one High Court to another.
- 27 Judges of High Courts were transferred from one High Court to another.
- The Judge strength of Tripura High Court enhanced by 01 post and of Telangana High Court by 18 posts, thus increasing the Approved Judge Strength in the Tripura High Court to 05 Judges and Telangana High Court to 42 Judges.
- Under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Department of Justice organized a number of events during the allotted week of 8th -14th November,2021 Department initiated Login Week Campaign under its Tele-Law: Reaching the Unreached, to promote increased access to pre- litigation advice for rightfully claiming their entitlements and timely redressal of their difficulties. More than 52000 beneficiaries were reached out through 4200 awareness sessions and nearly 17000 were provided with legal advice and consultation by dedicated pool of Panel Lawyers through video/teleconferencing facilities under Tele-Law. To maximize outreach Tele-Law on Wheels campaign was also rolled out where special Tele-Law branded Mobile Vans travelled in different parts of the country to spread the message of Tele-Law through playing of videos, radio jingle and distribution of Tele-Law leaflets.
- A mega event was also organized by the Department on 13thNovember 2021which was attended by more than 65,000 participants and it was presided by Hon’ble Minister of Law and Justice and Hon’ble Minister of State. On this occasion 126 best performing front-line functionaries were felicitated whose relentless efforts in the far flung areas of the country has helped Tele law reach glorious heights. A Tele-Law Mobile App has also been launched for enabling seamless connect of beneficiaries with Panel Lawyers. Various print and digital knowledge products were released which includes Tele-Law brochure, Tele-Law movies, Tele-Law Logo and Tele-Law Mascot to ensure citizen participation.Tele-Law services is available at 75,000 CSCs/Gram Panchayats in 669 Districts (including 112 Aspirational districts as per NITI Aayog data) across 36 States/UTs of the country. As on 30thNovember, 2021, there are 12,70,135 total cases registered, of which advice has been enabled to 12,50,911beneficiaries.
- National Legal Services Authority (NALSA):
- The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) launched a Legal Services Mobile Application, which can be downloaded on android mobile phones. All the services provided by Legal Services Authorities can be availed through the said mobile application. The salient features of this application are:
- Any citizen may apply for seeking legal assistance, legal advice and for redressal of other grievances through Mobile App.
- Any citizen may track his application submitted for legal aid & advice and other grievances.
- Reminder can be sent and clarifications can be sought through Mobile App.
- Any victim of crime or applicant can apply for victim compensation through the Mobile App.
- Application for pre-institution mediation in commercial matters or application for mediation may be filed through this Mobile App.
- A Pan-India Special Campaign for creating Legal Awareness was launched by NALSA through its country-wide organisational framework on 17th September 2021. The highlights of this campaign included deployment of 185 Mobile Vans and other vehicles to show-case films and documentaries on Access to Justice programme, holding of 4100 Legal Aid Clinics to give pre-litigation / legal advice to common citizens with the help of 37,000 Panel Lawyers and Para-Legal Volunteers besides holding awareness programmes at the village level on legal aid in nearly 1500 villages of 672 districts.
- National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)also organized six- week “Pan India Legal Awareness & Outreach Campaign” from 2ndOctober 2021, under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. As a part of this campaign, Door-to-Door visits were organized reaching out to 86cr citizens. Nearly 6 lakh Awareness Programmes were organized benefiting 26 cr citizens. More than 39,000 Legal Aid Clinics were held which assisted nearly 1.50 cr citizens. 26,460 Mobile Vans were deployed in 3.21 lakh villages which sensitized 19 cr citizens about Legal Aid services.
- eCourts Mission Mode Project:
The e-Court Integrated Mission Mode Project was launched with the objective of improving access to justice using technology. Phase II of the project started in 2015 with an outlay of Rs.1,670 crore out of which a sum of Rs.1611.19 crore has been released by the Government. Under Phase II, 18,735 District & Subordinate courts have been computerized so far.
As part of WAN project, connectivity to 2957 of 2992 court complexes (98.7% sites) havebeen provided with 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps bandwidth speed using various technologies like OFC, RF, VSAT etc. TNF sites have been reduced from 58 to 11.
Case Information Software (CIS) based on customized Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has been developed. A COVID-19 Management Patch has been developed in the CIS to help in smart scheduling of cases.
Using National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), developed with elastic search technology, lawyers and litigants can access case status information of 19.76 crore cases and more than 15.99 crore orders/judgments. Open APIs have been introduced which allows the Government departments to use the NJDG data for research and analysis. To track cases related to land disputes, Land Records data of 26 States have been linked with NJDG.
Using Video conferencing, the District and High courts have heard nearly 1.65 crore cases and the Supreme Court had nearly 1.5 lakh hearings making it the world leader. VC facilities have also been operationalized between 3240 Courts and corresponding 1272 Prisons. Funds for setting up 2506 VC Cabins have been made available. Additional 1500 VC Licenses have been acquired. Live Streaming of proceedings has started in Gujarat, Karnataka and Orissa High Court thus allowing interested persons to join the proceedings. Uttarakhand and Telangana have started Mobile e-courts van equipped with Wi-Fi and computers for video conferencing for speedy disposal of cases.
15 virtual courts in 11 States / UTs have been set up to try traffic offences. These courts have heard more than 1.07 crore cases and realized Rs. 201.96 crore in fines. Delhi High Court has started 34 Digital Courts to hear cheque bounce cases under the Section 138 NI Act.
An e-filing system (version 3.0) has been launched in April 2021, for the electronic filing of legal papers with advanced features like online submission of Vakalatnama, e-Signing, online video recording of oath, online payment, filing of multiple IAs/application, Portfolio Management and bilingual mode etc. Online payment of court fees, fines and penalties has been initiated through https://pay.ecourts.gov.in. As on 31.10.2021, 22 States have already amended the Court Fees Act.To make justice delivery inclusive and to mitigate handicaps caused by digital divide, 235 e-Sewa Kendras are being rolled out to provide e-filing services to lawyers and litigants.
Citizen centric services are provided through 7 platforms or service delivery channels for providing real time information on case status, cause lists, judgements etc. to lawyers/litigant. The services are SMS Push and Pull (2,00,000 SMS sent daily), Email (2,50,000 sent daily), multilingual and tactile e-Courts services Portal (35 Lakh hits daily), Judicial Service centres (JSC), Info Kiosks, e-Courts Mobile App for lawyers/litigants (with 68.04 lakh downloads till 01.11.2021) and Just IS app for judges (16,751 downloads till 02.12.2021).
National Service and tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP) has been developed for process serving and issue of summons and is currently functional in 26 States/UTs.
A new ‘Judgment & Order Search’ portal has been inaugurated to provide a repository for Judgments and Final Orders of the High Courts and can be reached at https://judgments.ecourts.gov.in.
A Software Module called the Order Communication Portal (OCP) has been launched by the Orissa High Court to facilitate secure and instantaneous communication of High Court’s orders and judgments to Subordinate Courts.
To bring awareness to the public about justice sector, advertising various schemes of the department and to give status of various fields to the public, 29 Justice Clocks have been installed at 19 High Courts.
A new e-Committee’s website has been launched on S3WaaS platform. DoJ has released funds for migration of District Court websites on S3WaaS platform.
A manual on e-filing and a Brochure on “How to register for E Filing” has been made available in English, Hindi and 12 regional languages for the use of the lawyers. A You tube channel has been created in the name of the e Court services which has helped advocates to acquire skills required for operating digital platforms with ease. The e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India has conducted trainings and awareness programmes on the ICT services which have covered 3,02,614 stakeholders.
- Scheme of Fast Track Special Courts (FTSC):
A Centrally Sponsored Scheme for setting up of 1023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) including 389 exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts was started by the Union of India in October, 2019 to provide speedy justice to the victims of rape and POCSO Act through expeditious disposal of related cases. The scheme was initially for one year with outlay of Rs.767.25 Cr. with Central Share amounting to Rs. 474 Cr. to be funded under Nirbhaya Fund. Central Share of Rs. 140 Cr. and Rs. 160 Cr. have been released to the States/UTs during 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Achievements of the Scheme in the last year
- The Department proposed for the continuation of the scheme. The scheme was evaluated by the National Productivity Council and appraised by the Empowered Committee of Nirbhaya Fund and its continuance for 2 years was recommended. Considering the paramount importance of safety and security of women and children, the Cabinet has approved continuation of the scheme for 2 more Financial years up to 31st March 2023 with a budgetary outlay of Rs.1572.86 Cr. including Rs.971.70 Cr. as Central Share.
- As on 30.11.2021, 27 States/UTs have operationalized 683 FTSCs including 383 e-POCSO Courts as compared to 609 FTSCs including 331 e-POCSO Courts in 24 States/UTs in December, 2020.
- The FTSCs up to 30.11.2021 have disposed 68120 cases as compared to around 35000 cases in 2020.
- The FTSCs reflects the national commitment to champion the cause of safety and security of women and girl child.
- The FTSCs are dedicated courts which have helped in fast tracking delivery of justice to the helpless victims of sexual offences; in creating a deterrence framework for sexual offenders, strengthening citizen’s faith in the justice system and making way for a safe environment for women and children.
- Launch of Gram Nyayalaya online Portal:
A Gram Nyayalaya online portal has also been created, wherein the states/High courts upload data relating to Gram Nyayalayas, including case disposal, on monthly basis.
- National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms:
The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms was set up in August 2011.National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms focuses on improvement of administration of justice and justice delivery and legal reforms in the entire country and to address the diverse needs of all sections of stakeholders. Its objectives are two-fold:
- Increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system, and
- Enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities
Initiatives under National Mission
- Implementation of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary:
One of the major initiatives of the National Mission relates to Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary. CSS for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary aims to increase the availability of suitable number of Court Halls, and Residential Accommodations for Judges / Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts all over the country including at District, Sub-District, Taluka, Tehsil and Gram Panchayat and Village levels. This will help in improving the functioning and performance of the Judiciary across the country in reaching out to every citizen.
The Government has approved the continuance of this CSS for a period of 5 years i.e. from 2021-22 to 2025-26 with financial outlay of Rs.9000 cr (including central share of Rs.5307 cr) and also introduced some new features like provision of Lawyers Halls, toilet complexes and digital computer rooms for the convenience of lawyers & litigants, besides court halls and residential units.
A sum of Rs. 8710 crore has been released till date (21.12.21) since the inception of the scheme of which Rs. 5265 crore has been released since 2014-15 which is around 60.45% of the total release under the Scheme. During the current financial year 2021-2022 a sum of Rs. 776 crore has been allocated of which a sum of Rs. 384.53 crore has been sanctioned. In the financial year 2020-21, an amount of Rs. 593 crore was released to the States.
As per the information made available by the High Courts, there are 20,595 court halls available which has been significantly increased as compared to the 15,818 available court halls in 2014. As far as the Residential Units are concerned 18,087 Residential units are available against the current working strength of 19,292 Judges/Judicial Officers. There were 10,211 Residential Units available in 2014. In addition, 2846 court halls and 1775 residential units are currently under construction.
Launch of Nyaya Vikas 2.0:
- Nyaya Vikas as an online tool for monitoring of construction projects was launched by Minister of Law & Justice on 11th June, 2018. The Nyaya Vikas web portal and mobile app have been upgraded and version 2.0 has been made available for public online from 1st April, 2020 with enhanced capabilities and functionalities, which has been developed based on the feedback from different State Users, with the assistance of NRSC, ISRO. As on 01.12.2021, 6089 court halls (completed and under construction) and 4813 residential units (completed and under construction) are geotagged.
- FILLING UP OF VACANCIES IN DISTRICT AND SUBORDINATE COURTS
As per the Constitutional framework, the selection and appointment of judges in subordinate courts is the responsibility of the High Courts and State Governments concerned. The Supreme Court, through a judicial order in Malik Mazhar case, has devised a process and time frame to be followed for the filling up of vacancies in subordinate judiciary. Department of Justice has been taking up the matter of filling up of vacant positions in District & Subordinate Courts with the States and High Courts. Department of Justice has hosted a MIS web-portal on its website for reporting and monitoring of sanctioned and working strength, and vacancies of Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts on monthly basis. This enables the policy makers to get monthly judicial data. From April, 2021 portal for reporting of “Vacancy related Data” in compliance of directions of Malik Mazhar Sultan case is also live on the Department of Justice website.
- PENDENCY IN COURTS
Disposal of cases is within the domain of the judiciary. However, the Union Government is committed to speedy disposal of cases and reduction in pendency of cases to improve access to justice in line with the mandate under Article 39A of the Constitution. The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, established by the Union Government, has adopted many strategic initiatives, including improving infrastructure [court halls and residential units] for Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts, leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for better justice delivery, filling up of vacant positions of Judges in High Courts and Supreme Court, reduction in pendency through follow up by Arrears Committees at District, High Court and Supreme Court level, emphasis on Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and initiatives to fast track special type of cases. As on 6 December 2021, there are 69,855 cases pending in the Supreme Court. The pendency in respect of high Courts and District and Subordinate Courts, as on 17 December 2021 stands at 56,39,702 and 4,006,61,393 respectively.
- Online Reporting on Time taken for Disposal:
The Department has made live the “Average Time Taken for Disposal of Cases” Portal on its website to record the responses by all High Courts pertaining to the time taken on an average in disposal of criminal and civil cases. This in compliance of observations made by Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee to maintain record of time taken in disposal of cases in courts.
- Reduction in Pendency through arrears committees:
In pursuance of resolution passed in Chief Justices’ Conference held in April, 2015, Arrears Committees have been set up in High Courts to clear cases pending for more than five years. Arrears Committees have been set up under District Judges too. Arrears Committee has been constituted in the Supreme Court to formulate steps to reduce pendency of cases in High Courts and District Courts. The Department of Justice has developed an online portal for reporting by all High Courts regarding the compliance with Arrears Committee guidelines of the Malimath Committee Report.
- EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
- TheEase of Doing Business (EoDB)index is a ranking system established by the World Bank Group wherein the ‘higher rankings’ (a lower numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights. Enforcing Contracts is one such indicator, which measures time and cost to resolve a standardized commercial dispute as well as a series of good practices in the judiciary. Department of Justice (DoJ) is the nodal department for the Enforcing Contract indicator. In order to create an environment conducive for investment and business, continued efforts have been made by implementing reforms to enable expeditious enforcement of contracts to improved Ease of Doing Business various reforms have been under taken by Department of Justice in coordination with eCommittee of Supreme Court of India and High Courts of Delhi and Mumbai.
- To handle commercial cases 22 dedicated Commercial Courts in Delhi, 6 in Mumbai, 9 in Bengaluru and 2 in Kolkata have been operationalized. In the year 2021, apart from 4 existing dedicated commercial courts, two more were operationalised in Mumbai.Other reforms undertaken include special benches at various High Courts to deal with high value commercial disputes above 500 crores, designated Special Courts for Infrastructure project contracts disputes as per Section 20B of the Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018, implementation of three adjournment rules (vide Colour Banding facility), use of ICT, e-filing, random and automated allocation of cases, use of electronic case management tools by Judges and lawyers, e-summons etc.
- One of the major initiative taken relates to linkage of property registration with court proceedings.Twenty-Six states (UTs) governments have received clearances from their respective High Courts for linkage of land records and registration database with NJDG.This would help in quick disposal of land disputes and reduce workload of the judiciary.
- Department of Justice has also launched the Enforcement of Contracts Portal which provides a comprehensive source of information on reforms being undertaken on the “Enforcing Contracts” parameters.
- Rule of Law Index
- The Rule of Law Index is developed and published by World Justice Project (WJP). ROLI 2021 covers 139 countries and ranks them based on the country-specific data collected across 8 factors and 44 sub-factors. ROLI quantitatively measures rule of law-in-practice by way of survey/polling of general public and sector experts. As per the latest report, India’s current rank in ROLI is 79 out of 139 countries assessed by the WJP. Department of Justice has been working with 29 stakeholder Ministry/Departments to improve India’s performance on 08 key indicators/factors and 44 sub-factors identified for the purpose.A coordination Committee Consisting of these Ministries/Department has been formed, which has held five meetings so far. Additionally, inputs were also sought from legal experts and industry regarding quantification of the improvement in qualitative / perception based parameters
- Subsequently, a Project Management Unit (PMU) DoJ established on 08.07.2021 consisting of expert agency (M/s. Market Xcel Data Matrix Pvt. Ltd., local agency previously engaged by WJP for their polling surveys in India) as members, headed by Joint Secretary, to assist line M/Ds with filling up information in prescribed template, formulate action plan to improve India’s performance in ROLI. Therepresentatives of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has also been associated for advice on creation of India Index, with local data sources. The PMU expanded parameters/ sub-parameters so that information collated by line M/Ds is more granular and precise that led to addition of 10 additional line M/Ds in the 19 previously identified M/Ds. A revised template for ROLI to add more information related to reform actions to assist in formulation of media plan was also prepared by the PMU.
- TheAction Plan formulated to take the process forwardinvolves, identification of Low Hanging fruits or parameters which are critical for score improvement, collection of details to be completed from each line M/D as per the parameters allocated, additional information to formulate a “Communication Outreach Plan” for further improvement to change the perception and relevance among people, developing an exclusive ROLI webpage on DoJ website to showcase progress undertaken, completion of information of ROLI Dashboard developed by NITI Aayog and Release of Bi-annual ROLI newsletter. The Challenges include converting the conceptual qualitative index into quantitative, with data from various ministry/Departments, identification of data sources, alternate data sources where data is not available. ROLI is a perception based Index for the countries taken as a whole, quantifying and creating an India Index with State/District-level data is challenging.
Data Governance Quality Index
- The DGQI Evaluation Exercise was undertaken by NITI Aayog to assess the data preparedness of the various Ministries and Departments. This study was conducted on the “Data Systems to ensure smooth processes of data generation, management and its use” as being employed by the various Central Ministries/ Departments. There have been two editions of this exercise, so far. The Department of Justice (at 8th place out of 24 Departments) secured a score of 2.98 out of 5 under DGQI 1.0. The rankings for DGQI 2.0 have not been released officially yet. The objective is to achieve a frontier score of 5 by using the indicative outline as per the DGQI Report for achieving frontier DGQI 5.0 scores for the 2nd Edition of the DGQI exercise that will have enhanced horizontal and vertical scope expansion and will cover CSS and CS Scheme as well as non-schemes/other initiatives. All Ministries/Departments were to prepare an action plan/ strategy for reaching DGQI 5.0 scores by Dec 2022.
- To steer the development and implementation of the action plan/roadmap to achieve frontier score of 5.0 on the DGQI report, a Data and Strategy Unit (DSU) in Department of Justice chaired by Joint Secretary (National Mission) has been constituted, which holds weekly meetings and reports the progress undertaken directly to Secretary(Justice) on a fortnightly basis. Till date, 13 meetings have been held for tracking of DGQI progress internally including NALSA, CSCs. The department has come up with an indicative outline of roadmap to improve data preparedness and improve DGQI scores. Besides Data Management Guidelines for DoJ have been issued with the aim of developing policies, programs and practices that would control, protect and enhance the value of datasets and information reported/collected by Department of Justice.
- The following progress has been achieved under the DGQI exercise:
|Pre-DSU Position||Post-DSU Position|
|1||Nyaya Vikas 2.0 portal and compartmentalization of CSS-related data||
|2||Gram Nyayalaya MIS portal; secured login with select users
|3||No data related E-Courts MMP Phases I & II
|4||Fast Track Courts(FTC) MIS portal; secured login with select users
|5||Special Courts(Family Court/Fast Track Courts/MP MLA Courts/SC ST Courts etc.) MIS portal; secured login with select users
|6||Online reporting of Judicial Officers vacancy in District and Subordinate Courts MIS Portal; secured login with select users
|7||Data related Vacancy position of & Supreme Court and Higher Judiciary in pdf format
- Other Initiatives:
Hon’ble Minister and Hon’ble Minister of State of Law & Justice held a brainstorming session with the officers and staff of the Department of Justice on 12.10.2021 at Garvi Gujarat Bhawan, New Delhi. During the meeting, there was a candid exchange of ideas and several fruitful suggestions were made to improve the functioning of the Department of Justice both in terms of policies and processes. It was also decided that further rounds of free-wheeling of ideas and thoughts would be held later for building cohesive team work in the Department.
- ii) Commemorating Constitution Day, 26thNovember, 2021
On the occasion of celebration of Constitution Day on the 26.11.2021, arrangements were made in Jaisalmer House to enable the staff and members of the Department of Justice to participate in the reading of the Preamble of the Constitution of India and joining in the oath taking ceremony ‘live’ with the Hon’ble President of India. To popularize the importance of Constitution in the lives of common man, a Webinar on ‘Fundamental Duties’ was organized. Vice Chancellors from National Law University, New Delhi and National Law University, Mumbai and Registrar of National Law School of India University, Bengaluru participated to enlighten the participants on the philosophical background of Fundamental Duties, Constitutional provisions on Fundamental Duties and the need of following Fundamental Duties during Covid times. The webinar reached out to 24,000⁺ participants including front line functionaries (Para legal Volunteers, Village level entrepreneurs and Panel Lawyers) of Tele-Law Programme.