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Failure to deliver timely justice cost the country 9% of its annual GDP: Chief Justice NV Raman asserts the need for good Judicial infrastructure

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Aurangabad, Oct 23, (ILNS) An effective judiciary can aid in the effective growth of the economy, Chief Justice NV Ramana said today. According to international research published in 2018, failure to deliver timely justice cost the country as much as 9% of its annual GDP. Moreover, the impact of an under-supported judiciary is also seen on foreign investments, Without adequate infrastructure, we cannot aspire to fill this gap, the CJI said.

Seeking Financial Autonomy for the judiciary, the CJI said, If we want a different outcome from the judicial system, we cannot continue to work in these circumstances. An integral aspect, in this regard, is the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Speaking at an inaugural function of B and C wings of the High Court Annexe building of Bombay High Court bench at Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Justice Ramana said, If we want a different outcome from the judicial system we should have a good Judicial Infrastructure.

Good judicial infrastructure for Courts in India has always been an afterthought, Justice Ramana said. It is because of this mindset that Courts in India still operate from dilapidated structures making it difficult to effectively perform their function. Judicial infrastructure is important for improving access to justice and to meet the growing demands of the public that is more aware of its rights and is developing economically, socially, and culturally, the CJI added.

It is baffling to note that the improvement and maintenance of judicial infrastructure are still being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner. The need for an additional Court complex at the Aurangabad bench was identified as early as 2011, at a meeting convened by the then senior-most judge at this Bench. That it has taken more than 10 years for this vision to be implemented is extremely worrisome. This is not the fault of any institution or organ of the State but is emblematic of a deeper structural problem that has plagued judicial infrastructure development in our country since independence. Today’s success should not, therefore, blind us to the issues that exist, CJI said.

Quoting some hard facts, the CJI said, The total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country is 24,280 and the number of court halls available is 20,143 (including 620 rented halls). 26% of court complexes do not have separate ladies toilets and 16% do not have gents toilets. Only 54% of court complexes have purified drinking water facilities. Only 5% of court complexes have basic medical facilities. Only 32% of courtrooms have separate Record Rooms. Only 51% of court complexes have a library. Only 27% of courtrooms have computers placed on the Judge’s dais with a video-conferencing facility.

Justice Ramana said, I have, sent a proposal for the establishment of the National Judicial Infrastructure Authority to the Ministry of Law and Justice, and I am hoping for a positive response soon.

I urge the Minister of Law and Justice to expedite the process and ensure that the proposal to create the National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (NJIAI) with statutory backing is taken up in the upcoming Winter Session of the Parliament. Institutionalising the mechanism for augmenting and creating state-of-the-art judicial infrastructure is the best gift that we can think of giving to our people and our country in this 75th year of our Independence, Chief Justice Ramana said.

Courts are extremely essential for any society that is governed by the rule of law, Justice Ramana said, Court buildings are not merely structures made of mortar and bricks. Rather, they actively assure the constitutional guarantee of the Right to Justice. The Courts in India have repeatedly upheld the rights and freedoms of individuals. They stood up whenever the individuals or society are at the receiving end of the executive excesses. It is an assurance that the seeker of justice, howsoever weak, need not worry about the might of the State

Praising the Aurangabad Bench of the High Court of Bombay, Justice Ramana said Something that I find praiseworthy is that they have taken proactive steps towards conservation of our environment. The Aurangabad bench has one of the most enviable premises of any High Court in the country. Spread over 57 acres, and inaugurated in 1995, it is one of the most spacious and contemporary High Court premises in the country. Such sustainable architecture and design should form a model for the rest of the country to follow. Ultimately, I hope that this new Annexe will energize the Aurangabad Bar. The Bar of Maharashtra has always been well known for producing some of the best advocates and Judges in the country, some of whom are sharing this dais with me. In the past 25 years, since the Aurangabad bench was set up, it has also been instrumental in enhancing the already sparkling reputation of the lawyers and judges from this State. I hope this rich tradition continues.

It gives me immense pleasure to participate in today’s event in this historic city, which is known as the “City of Gates”. Any visitor cannot fail to be inspired by the history behind the various monuments and cultural sites in and around this city. Many ideas of the social revolution which have resulted in the freedom and liberties that we all take for granted today, have been borne out of this fertile and progressive land. Be it the extraordinary Savitribai Phule or the pioneering feminist Jyotirao Phule, or the legendary Dr Ambedkar – they always aspired for an egalitarian society where every individual’s right to dignity is honoured. Together, they have set in motion irreversible social changes which have finally evolved into our Constitution – which will continue to define how an ideal society should be.

The CJI congratulated the Government of Maharashtra and the Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray for his efforts and cooperation. He has promised to me on the dais that he will extend all help for the construction of new court complex for Bombay High Court, Justice Ramana said adding, I Congratulate Chief Minister Shri Udhav Thakre and Justice Gavai for addressing the gathering in Marathi, the mother tongue.

The CJI said, I am glad to again be sharing the dais with Shri Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of Law and Justice. His enthusiasm and commitment to the cause of justice is reflected in the frequency of our meetings over the past few months through such events.

Finally, let me congratulate the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Justice Dipankar Dutta, the dynamic and hardworking Chief Justice, who played an instrumental role in making this project a reality. I also congratulate the other Judges of the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court, the staff and the members of the Bar for what I am sure will be a glorious new chapter for the High Court

I sincerely thank my Brother Judges Justice UU Lalit, Justice Chandrachud, Justice Gavai and Justice A S Oak for their contribution in strengthening the Aurangabad Bench, chief Justice Ramana Said./ILNS/SNG/

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