Topeswar Das, a professional advocate ,been practicing law in a court which fulfils the bare minimum requirement of space but not the infrastructure that he can be proud of. Like most lower judiciary infrastructure in other parts of the country, most of the lower courts in Assam, including the one in Nalbari where Das practices, have dilapidated structures making it difficult, if not impossible, to effectively perform their functions.
It is a known fact the lower judiciary’s infrastructure has not kept pace with the increasing number of litigations instituted every year in most of the lower courts in the State. The e-Court Integrated Mission Mode Project, which was launched in 2007 with the objective of improving access to justice using technology is yet to gain ground in the State.
“We have space constraints in the court. At present, both Executive and Judiciary have been functioning from the same building in Nalbari town. The district Posco Court has been conducting its functions from a rented house. Even basic facilities like photocopier machines are not where we want them to be,” he said. Though the Government has allocated land for permanent structure of the district court, construction is yet to be completed,” added Das. He is one among the thousands of lawyers in Assam who are joyous at the recent announcement by the Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma that ₹ 300 crore will be allotted to rev up judicial infrastructure in the State.
“A good video conferencing facility at the CJM Court in Nalbari is a must. There is limited space for malkhana in the Police Inspection Court. Now that funds have been sanctioned by both the Central and State governments, the lower judiciary in the State will get proper attention from agencies of the State Government,” he pointed out.
Das added that the lack of digital infrastructures in Nalbari Court proved to be a big hurdle for advocates during the Covid-19 pandemic when courts were forced to go virtual.
“We do not have e–library facility in the district court. Space problem is always there in the court building. Most of the advocates cannot even sit properly. We have 450 registered advocates in Jorhat District Court but sitting capacity is only 250,” she told Asom Barta while welcoming the announcement regarding the proposed investment in judicial infrastructure in the State.
Sewali Gogoi Dutta, secretary of Jorhat Bar Association seconds the opinion of Das.
“Number of pending cases is also on the rise. Vacancy needs to be filled up and cases need to be disposed of. Even the MACT Court is not functioning due to limited manpower,” she says.
The Chief Minister had said in an official programme in Guwahati that his Government would provide ₹300 crore to go with an equivalent amount provided by the Central Government to improve judicial infrastructure in the State.
He said that 100 recruitments would be made in the lower judiciary as one of the mechanisms of faster dispensing of justice in the State. He said this while addressing the diamond jubilee celebration of the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in Guwahati on September 10.
Dr Sarma stated that the State Government was contemplating various welfare schemes for those who have retired from active practice.
Addressing those present, which included the Union Minister of Law & Justice Kiren Rijiju; Judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Surya Kant, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, and the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court Justice RM Chhaya, the Chief Minister congratulated the Bar Council for having successfully completed 60 years of its existence.
Chief Justice of the High Court of Chhattisgarh Justice Arup Kumar Goswami, Chief Justice of the High Court of Telangana Justice Ujjal Kumar Bhuyan, judges and former judges of various high courts, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, Chairman of the Bar Council of India Manan Kumar Mishra, and chairman of the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim G N Sahewala were among those present on the occasion.
“Most lower courts in Assam have space problems. Even the Bar does not have enough space for its members to sit. Lower judiciary should get good infrastructure for proper functioning,” Sahewala said.
On the same day, Dr Sarma attended the inaugural ceremony of the Gauhati High Court Museum, built at the old block on the High Court premises. Items such as a handwritten copy of the Constitution of India, robes, wigs of retired and past judges, litho machine etc., are on display in the museum.
₹ 9K CR TO REV UP JUDICIAL INFRA: RIJIJU
AB BUREAU, GUWAHATI
Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju while inaugurating the diamond jubilee celebration of Bar Council of five North Eastern States of Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim.
He said that in consultation with the Supreme Court Collegium, the Central Government will solve the issue of vacancy of judges in various high courts. “Appointment of High Court judges is a collaborative process between the executive and judiciary and involves approval from various constitutional authorities at the State- and the Central-level,” he said.
With the number of pending cases nearing the 5-crore mark, Rijiju said that the speed of new cases filed outlasts the disposal speed of cases.
The Union Law Minister said that Centre has recently sanctioned ₹ 9,000 crores for improvement in judicial infrastructure in the country.