Central government willing to set up more courts in states

April 19th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday indicated the central government’s willingness to set up courts in states to deal with cases under central laws, though law and order is a state subject. Inaugurating a conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts, Singh said he favoured Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan’s idea of the central government coming forward to set up more family courts and courts to deal with graft cases involving government officials.

The prime minister said: “The chief justice of India has expressed the view that the central government may consider stepping in to establish an adequate number of family courts.

“Since the Family Courts Act is a social welfare measure initiated by the central government, and Article 247 of the constitution enables the union government to establish additional courts for the better administration of law made by parliament, I believe we can accept the chief justice’s advice.”

He added that “many states so far have failed to discharge their legal obligation” of setting up an adequate number of family courts.

The prime minister also endorsed the chief justice’s idea of setting up more courts to deal with graft cases.

“The chief justice has written to me suggesting that we create special courts to deal with corruption cases. I agree that there is urgent need to do so. This will instil greater confidence in our justice delivery system, at home and abroad,” he said.

“Apart from pendency and delayed justice, corruption is another challenge we face both in the government and the judiciary.”

Later, at a news conference, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj pointed out that the central government could also intervene to set up courts to deal with cases under of the Prevention of Corruption Act - a law enacted by parliament.

Corruption cases are usually probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said Bhardwaj, citing another reason for central intervention to set up courts in states to deal with graft cases.

Terming the mounting arrears of cases in courts at various levels “a key challenge”, Singh said the central government would provide all help to tackle it and called upon the states to do the same.

Speaking on the occasion earlier, the chief justice made a strong case for enhanced funding for the judiciary.

“The courts in this country play an important role in economic growth and development. There is empirical evidence to show that the rule of law does contribute to a nation’s wealth and its rate of economic growth,” Balakrishnan said.

“When the law is weak or non-existent, the enforcement of property and contract rights frequently depends on the threat and sometimes the actuality of violence and it may retard economic growth.”

Underlying the problem of inadequate judicial infrastructure, leading to the huge backlog of cases and raising “dissatisfaction in the public mind about the effectiveness of the court process”, he said: “A modernising nation’s economic prosperity requires at least a modest legal infrastructure”.

Terming judiciary as “the most fragile branch of the government”, the chief justice added: “Despite repeated efforts, the allocation of funds for starting new courts is not very encouraging. The budget allotment is grossly inadequate to meet the requirements of judiciary.

“When we are boosting rapid change and fast economic growth, why don’t we think seriously about our judicial reforms?

“I appeal to all state governments to give all possible help to improve infrastructure and make our judicial system more effective to serve the millions of people of this great nation.”

In an apparent response to the demand, Manmohan Singh called upon the states to extend all possible help to judiciary.

In a two-day judges’ meet that preceded Saturday’s conference, the judiciary had raised a demand for raising its budgetary allocation.

The agenda note approved during the judges’ meet rued: “Barring Delhi, various states of the country have been spending less than one percent of their budget for subordinate judiciary and trial courts. Even Delhi spends a meagre 1.03 percent of its budget on subordinate judiciary”.

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