Judicial Infrastructure

2022 JAN 24

Mains   > Polity   >   Judiciary   >   infrastructure


  • Recently, the Chief Justice of India proposed creation of a National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (NJIAI).


  • Judicial infrastructure includes the physical premises of courts, tribunals, lawyers’ chambers etc.
  • It also involves the digital and human resources infrastructure, including the availability of all the resources that are essential to ensure timely dispensation of justice.
  • Efficient judicial infrastructure means providing equal and free access to justice which can be realised through a barrier free and citizen friendly environment
  • At present, primary responsibility of development of infrastructure facilities for judiciary rests with state governments.
  • Central Government augments the resources of the State Governments by releasing financial assistance under a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the Development of Judicial Infrastructure.



It was constituted to establish a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society.

  • The proposed NJIAI could work as a central agency with each State having its own State Judicial Infrastructure Authority, much like the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) model.
  • NJIAI will take control of the budgeting and infrastructure development of subordinate courts in the country.
  • The proposed NJIAI should be placed under the Supreme Court of India unlike NALSA which is serviced by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • It will not suggest any major policy change but will give complete freedom to HCs to come up with projects to strengthen ground-level courts.
  • NJIC, which would include the CJI, judges of the Supreme Court, and high courts, finance secretaries of the Centre and states concern can quickly end bureaucratic hurdles and challenges of  coordination amongst multiple bodies.
  • The proposed body is intended to monitor and address the issues of delay in land allotment, funds diversion for non-judicial purposes, evasion of responsibilities by the high courts and trial courts, amongst others


  • Poor state of judicial infrastructure in the country:
    • The Indian judiciary’s infrastructure has not kept pace with the sheer number of litigations instituted every year.
    • A point cemented by the fact that the total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country is 24,280, but the number of court halls available is just 20,143, including 620 rented halls.
    • As far as residential units are concerned, there are only 17,800 units available for the judicial officers. Lack of residential accommodation to all the judicial officers adversely affects their working and performance.
    • 26% of the court complexes do not have separate ladies toilets and 16% do not have gents toilets.
    • Only 32% of the courtrooms have separate record rooms and only 51% of the court complexes have a library.
    • Only 5% of the court complexes have basic medical facilities
    • While the pandemic has forced most of the courts to adopt a hybrid system — physical and videoconferencing mode — of hearing, only 27% of the courtrooms have a computer placed on the judge’s dais with videoconferencing facility.
  • Lack of accountability:
    • In the absence of a dedicated special purpose vehicle or body for the purpose of enhancing judicial infrastructure, nobody is willing to take responsibility to execute infrastructure projects.
    • Most district judges, who head trial courts, also do not vigorously pursue development projects due to short-term appointments and transferable jobs among others.
  • Implementation issue:
    • Improvement and maintenance of judicial infrastructure is still being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner owing to lack of a single dedicated agency for the purpose.
  • Underutilisation of funds:
    • To develop judicial infrastructure, funds are extended by the central government and states under the Centrally-Sponsored Scheme for Development of Judiciary Infrastructure, which began in 1993 and was extended for another five years in July 2021.
    • However, states do not come forward with their share of funds and consequently, money allocated under the scheme is often left unspent with them and lapses.
    • Example: Of a total of Rs. 981.98 crore sanctioned in 2019-20 under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) to the States and Union Territories for development of infrastructure in the courts, only Rs. 84.9 crore was utilised by a combined five States, rendering the remaining 91.36% funds unused.
    • Reasons for this underutilisation of money routed through CSS are:
      • (a) As per the CSS terms and conditions, states have to contribute 40 percent matching grant and most states fail to fulfil this commitment for a variety of reasons. Beyond the matching contribution, in general states have shown lukewarm response to this critical need. For instance, other than Maharashtra, which sanctioned 2 percent, every state in India has allocated less than 2 percent from their budgets towards judicial infrastructure
      • (b) While the respective  high courts have power to sanction district courts and related infrastructures, the decisions with regards to the implementation including the allocation of land, permission for the complex are undertaken by the state governments in consultation with respective high courts. This consultation and coordination are tedious and very time consuming. Most importantly, with states busy in more pressing priorities and high courts in their own day-to-day dispensing of justice, often projects have no real takers.
  • Use of funds for Non-Judicial Purposes:
    • In some cases states have also transferred part of the fund under the Centrally-Sponsored Scheme for Development of Judiciary Infrastructure for non-judicial purposes.



  • Positive correlation between adequate judicial infrastructure and productivity in justice delivery:
    • Adequate and quality judicial infrastructure are the basic pre-requisite for judges, lawyers, and judicial officers to efficiently perform their responsibilities while dispensing justice
    • Adequacy of judicial infrastructure is critical for reduction of pendency and backlog of cases in Courts.
    • The Supreme Court-constituted National Court Management System (NCMS) says that there is a direct connection between physical infrastructure, personnel infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and pendency.
  • Improve digitisation program of government:
    • In the backdrop of COVID 19 pandemic and the shift towards digital mode, it is all the more important to ensure modernization of judicial infrastructure in the country.
    • At present, 73% of court rooms have no video-conferencing facility. 


  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary
    • It has been in operation since 1993-94
    • The Central Government through this scheme augments the resources of the State Governments for construction of court buildings and residential quarters for Judicial Officers (JO) in all the States / UTs.
  • ‘eCourts’ project:
    • It is a mission mode project undertaken by the Department of Justice
    • Objectives:
      • Interlinking of all courts across the country
      • ICT enablement of the Indian judicial system
      • Enabling courts to enhance judicial productivity, both qualitatively and quantitatively
      • Making the justice delivery system accessible, cost-effective, transparent and accountable
      • Providing citizen-centric services
    • Phases I and II of the project
      • Dealt with digitisation of the judiciary, i.e., e-filing, tracking cases online, uploading judgments online, etc.
    • Phase III of the project
      • Digitisation of court processes, and plans to upgrade the electronic infrastructure of the judiciary and enable access to lawyers and litigants.
      • Propose an “ecosystem approach” to justice delivery.
      • It suggests a “seamless exchange of information” between various branches of the State, such as between the judiciary, the police and the prison systems through the Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS).
      • This 360-degree approach is the main objective of Phase III of the project.
    • Core Values:
      • The mission strive for a modern judicial system, governed by core values of trust, empathy, sustainability and transparency which, while simplifying procedures, will maximise the positives of technology and minimise its risks and challenges.
    • Adoption frameworks:
      • This focus on building strong adoption frameworks. Such frameworks must include behavioural nudges, adequate training and skill set development, feedback loops, along with the requisite mandate of law.
    • Whole-of-system approach:
      • It aim to make processes more efficient across all three components of dispute management - Dispute avoidance, Containment and Resolution.
      • Each of these components will require technological integration with different institutions.
    • Governance framework:
      • Numerous judicial decisions have validated the use of technology in judicial processes
      • This mission address the accompanying administrative structures


  • A decentralized body for infrastructure development:
    • Fear of centralisation and top-down interventions emerging from the NJIC can be greatly reduced by having a corporation at each state involving respective high court and state and district level officials.
  • Increasing budgetary allocation to judicial branch:
    • According to the recently released India Justice Report, between 2011-12 and 2015-2016, India’s annual average spending on the judiciary was just 0.08% of the GDP.
  • Ensuring inclusive infrastructure:
    • Adequate provisioning of availability of ramps, tactile pavements and braille notices for those with visual impairment, and separate washrooms designated for persons with disabilities.
  • Address shortage of staff in Judiciary:
    • By improving upon collegium system for higher judiciary and removing delay in recruitment made by state commission/high courts for lower judiciary.
  • Using of technology:
    • IT can be leveraged for video conferencing, streamlining procedures and for case management systems like e-library of cases.
    • Also, artificial intelligence may be used for assisting judges and lawyers.
  • Delegating Administrative Functions:
    • Presently, the respective registries of the courts are mostly tasked with carrying out the judiciary’s administrative functions.
    • In countries like UK, US and Canada, the administrative functions of courts and tribunals including infrastructure and financial resources are supported by a separate professional agency.


Q. ‘Institutionalising the mechanism for augmenting and creating state-of-the-art judicial infrastructure is pre-requisite for effective delivery of justice’. Discuss.