Government Approves Setting up of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms
The Government today approved the proposal of Ministry of Law and Justice to operationalize the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms to realize and implement the objectives set out in the Vision Document adopted at the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices on 24– 25 October, 2009.
Earlier, on 3rd December, 2009, the Government had approved ‘in principle’ the proposal of this Department to set up a National Mission with directions that specific approvals from competent authority will be sought on different components of the Mission after completing prescribed consultation procedures.
Objectives of the National Mission
The National Mission will focus on improvement in administration of justice and justice delivery and legal reforms in the entire country and it has to address diverse needs of all sections of stakeholders in a Mission Mode approach.
The Mission spanning 5 years from 2011-2016 would focus on two major goals as envisaged in the vision document, namely :
(i) increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system, and
(ii) enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities.
The salient features of the National Mission are:-
(1) The National Mission would comprise of Advisory Council, Governing Council, National Mission Leader and the Mission Directorate.
(2) The Advisory council will advise on the goals, objectives and strategies of the National Mission and the Action Plan and its implementation and performance of the Mission in meeting its objectives and would be chaired by the Minister for Law and Justice and would have membership from Parliament, State Governments, Jurists & senior officers of Government of India.
(3) The Governing Council would facilitate implementation, give policy directions and oversee the work of the Mission and would be headed by the Minister for Law and Justice.
(4) The Secretary, Department of Justice would be the National Mission Leader.
(5) A Mission Directorate would be constituted to implement and monitor the various initiative / programme of the National Mission. It would be headed by an officer of the rank of the Joint Secretary who would act as the Mission Director.
(6) An Action Plan has been drawn up which would of course be subjected to change once the Governing Council meets to set out the agenda. The tentative Action Plan for five strategic initiatives are:-
(i) Policy and Legislative changes such as All India Judicial Service, Litigation Policy, Judicial Impact Assessment, Amendment in N.I. Act and Arbitration & Conciliation Act, Legal Education Reforms etc.
(ii) Re-engineering procedures and alternate methods of Dispute Resolution such as identification of bottlenecks, procedural changes in court processes, statutory amendments to reduce and disincentivize delays, Fast tracking of procedures, appointment of court managers and Alternate Dispute Resolution.
(iii) Focus on Human Resource Development such as filling up of vacancy positions in all courts of judges and court staff, strengthening State Judicial Academies, Training of Public Prosecutors and ICT enablement of public prosecutors offices, strengthening National Judicial Academy and Training of mediators.
(iv) Leveraging ICT for better justice delivery such as implementation of Ecourts project, integration of ICT in the judiciary and use in criminal justice delivery and creation of National Arrears Grid.
(v) Improving Infrastructure such as improving physical infrastructure of the District and subordinate courts and creation of special / additional courts like Morning / Evening Courts, Family Courts and Gram Nyayalayas.
There are certain initiatives listed above which are ongoing would be further strengthened and new initiatives would be undertaken as indicated in the action plan which may be revised / enhanced by the Governing Council.
(7) Infrastructure development for the subordinate judiciary is the major thrust area of the National Mission. Inadequacy of infrastructure facilities in District and Subordinate courts has remained a major bottleneck in the judicial system largely contributing to the accumulation of arrears. In order to augment the resources of the State Governments for development of infrastructure facilities for the judiciary a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) has remained in operation since 1993-94 at 50:50 basis. A preliminary assessment of requirement of infrastructure for subordinate courts from the States revealed that around Rs. 7000 crore would be needed over five years for construction/maintenance etc. The Central Government outflow would be around Rs. 5500 crore over five years.
(8) During Regional Consultations held at Guwahati, Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Goa during June-August 2010, a number of States raised the demand for change in funding pattern from 50:50 to 75:25 and enhancement in the amount of Central grant. In a Mission Mode programme a higher allocation by Central Government would incentivise the States and hence, the Department of Justice propose the Central contribution be raised to 75% of the allocations and sharing pattern between Centre and the States should be changed to 75:25 for the States other than North-Eastern States which already have approved funding pattern of 90:10. Cabinet today also approved the funding of infrastructure development of subordinate courts in the ratio of Central / State assistance will be 75:25 instead of the present 50:50. In case of North-Eastern State, the ratio will be 90:10 as already agreed to in the CSS Scheme by the Planning Commission. This modified scheme will be implemented under the National Mission.
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