Fund judiciary adequately for economic growth: chief justice

April 19th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan Saturday made a strong case for enhanced funding for the judiciary saying the courts have been playing “an important role in the country’s economic growth and development”. For greater funding and budgetary allocation to the judiciary, the chief justice raised the monetary argument before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his address to the annual conference of chief ministers and chief justices of the states.

“The courts in this country play an important role in the 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,” the chief justice 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”, Balakrishnan said: “A modernising nation’s economic prosperity requires at least a modest legal infrastructure”.

Terming judiciary as “the most fragile branch of the government”, he added: “Despite the 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 the rapid change and fast economic growth, why not we think seriously about our judicial reforms?

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

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

The agenda note, approved during the judges’ meet and to be deliberated further in Saturday’s conference, 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.

“In terms of gross national product (GNP), the expenditure on judiciary in our country is hardly 0.2 percent, whereas it is 1.2 percent in Singapore, 1.4 percent in the United States of America and 4.3 percent in the United Kingdom.”

Analysing the total expenditure by the central government, the agenda note said: “In the Ninth Plan (1997-2000), the centre released Rs.3.85 billion for priority demands of judiciary which amounted to a meagre 0.071 percent of the total expenditure of Rs.5.41 trillion (Rs.541,207 crore).

“Similarly, during the 10th Plan (2002-2007), the allocation was Rs.7 billion, which is 0.078 percent of the total plan outlay of Rs.8.93 trillion (Rs.893,183 crore).

“Such meagre allocations are grossly inadequate to meet the requirements of the judiciary.”

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