Maharashtra to get 180 more judges; Government stresses on speedy trials
Maharashtra is all set to get 180 judicial officers, that will help in setting up more fast track courts to speed the process of justice delivery. Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, after a review meeting, Union Minister for Law & Justice, Ashwani Kumar said, the Centre has initiated several new measures to quicken up the judicial process and promised all necessary help to state governments. He said, Maharashtra has planned 100 fast track courts and 65 of them are already operational. The state has also decided to set up 16 special courts to try cases relating to violence against women.
The Centre has sanctioned 10% of the existing strength of judges as additional posts to be created for the subordinate judiciary. These posts will be funded on matching sharing basis by the Central and State Government.
Mr. Ashwani Kumar, who reviewed the progress of judicial reforms in Maharashtra, expressed satisfaction on most counts, except utilization of central funds, which he said needs to be speeded up. He however, admitted that the low conviction rate in Maharashtra is somewhat puzzling and said that a study jointly by the Central and State Governments will be commissioned soon to ascertain the reasons. Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan said the pendency of cases in the state has come down drastically from about 40 lakhs to 30 lakhs
Justice at doorstep : Gram Nyayalays
Highlighting the need for providing speedy and affordable justice to the common man at his doorsteps, the Law Minister said the Gram Nyayalayas are being set up at the inter-mediate Panchayat level. He said, 10 such Gram Nyayalayas have already been established in Maharashtra, and 15 more will be set up soon. “The Gram Nyayalayas being located at sub-taluka level, have great potential to provide speedy justice to the people in rural areas” he said.
National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill
Briefing newspersons about the initiatives taken at the national level, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar informed that his Ministry has prepared a cabinet note on National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill, which will soon be put up for the consideration of the Union Cabinet. He said, if implemented, the National Judicial Appointment Commission will go a long way in ensuring speedy appointment of judges in the higher judiciary. Presently, there are a large number of vacancies of judges, which is hampering speedy trial of cases across the High Courts in the country.
Reviewing laws relating to elections
Mr Ashwani Kumar also stressed that reforms in the electoral process are important to check corruption in public places. He said, the Law Commission has been asked to come up with concrete suggestions within 3 months, recommending changes required in the laws relating to elections in the country.
Asked whether there is a need to reduce the age of juvenile from 18 to 16, Mr. Ashwani Kumar replied in affirmative, citing the heinous Delhi gang rape as an example. He said, the Government will take a holistic view about all changes to be made in the legal regime, based on the recommendations of Justice Verma Commission and Justice Usha Mehra Commission.*
(Note : Justice Verma Commission submitted its report to the Government in New Delhi, even as the Minister’s press conference was on in Mumbai.)