Procedure For Drafting Laws (Ministry of Law and Justice Press release 31st March 2022)

The Ministry/ Department to whom a subject matter is allocated under the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 formulates the legislative proposals in consultation with experts and stake holders as well as all interested persons and authorities concerned. The Legislative Department prepares draft laws in consultation with the administrative Ministry concerned in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures.

 Chapter 9 of the Manual of the Parliamentary Procedures in the Government of India provides procedures for legislation and the Legislative Department follows the procedure stated in that Manual while drafting laws.

Paragraph 9.3 of Chapter 9 of the Manual of the Parliamentary Procedures provides as under:-

 “The Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Department) will prepare a draft Bill ordinarily within 30 days from the date of receipt of the proposal after clearance from the Department of Legal Affairs, unless any clarifications are required or it is not possible to do so for contingencies such as the draftsman being busy with budget proposals etc., on the basis of the material made available by the concerned Ministry/Department, holding discussions with the officers of that Ministry/Department for getting various aspects of the Bill clarified, wherever considered necessary”.

This information was given by the Union Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Kiren Rijiju in a written reply in Rajya Sabha, today.

Virtual Hearing Policy In The Courts (Press Release 31st March 2022)

Disposal of pending cases in courts is within the domain of the judiciary.  No time frame has been prescribed for disposal of various kinds of cases by the respective courts. Government has no role in disposal of cases in courts. Timely disposal of cases in courts depends on several factors which, inter-alia, include availability of adequate number of judges and judicial officers, supporting court staff and physical infrastructure, complexity of facts involved, nature of evidence, co-operation of stake holders viz. bar, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants and proper application of rules and procedures. There are several factors which may lead to delay in disposal of cases.  These, inter-alia, include vacancies of judges, frequent adjournments and lack of adequate arrangement to monitor, track and bunch cases for hearing. The Central Government is fully committed to speedy disposal of cases in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution and reducing pendency.  The Government has taken several initiatives to provide an ecosystem for faster disposal of cases by the judiciary.

National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms was set up in August, 2011 with the twin objectives of increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system and enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities.  The Mission has been pursuing a co-ordinated approach for phased liquidation of arrears and pendency in judicial administration, which, inter-alia, involves better infrastructure for courts including computerization, increase in strength of subordinate judiciary, policy and legislative measures in the areas prone to excessive litigation, re-engineering of court procedure for quick disposal of cases and emphasis on human resource development.

Facilities for virtual hearing are available in the Supreme Court as well as in High Courts of the country. Since Covid lockdown started, the District courts heard 1,11,40,223 cases while the High Court heard 60,21,688 cases (totalling 1.71 crore) till 31.01.2022 using video conferencing. The Supreme Court held 2,18,891 hearings till 14.03.2022 since the beginning of lockdown period. To bring about uniformity and standardization in the conduct of Video Conferencing (VC), an overarching order was passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 6th April 2020 which gave legal sanctity and validity to the court hearings done through VC. Further, VC rules were framed by a 5-judge committee which was circulated to all the High Courts for adoption after local contextualization. A total of 23 High Courts have implemented Video Conferencing rules. One video conference equipment each has been provided to all Court Complexes including taluk level courts and additionally funds have been sanctioned for additional VC equipment for 14,443 court rooms. Funds for setting up 2506 VC Cabins have been made available. Additional 1500 VC Licenses have been acquired. VC facilities are already enabled between 3240 court complexes and corresponding 1272 jails. A sum of Rs. 7.60 crore has been released for procurement of 1732 Document Visualizers.

Virtual hearing of the cases by the High Courts and the Supreme Court has helped the litigants including the under privileged litigants as it helps litigants to appear before the court from any location of their choice thus leading to considerable saving of time and money.   It also helped the entire legal ecosystem including vulnerable litigants to have recourse to justice delivery system particularly during the Covid pandemic when congregational mode of court hearing could not be held due to lockdown and social distancing protocols.  However, whether open physical courts will operate alongwith virtual hearing is an administrative matter which falls within the purview and domain of judiciary for taking a decision.

This information was given by the Union Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Kiren Rijiju in a written reply in Rajya Sabha, today.

Speedy Disposal of the Cases

Ministry of Law and Justice Press releases dated 25 March 2022

Disposal of pending cases in courts is within the domain of the judiciary.  No time frame has been prescribed for disposal of various kinds of cases by the respective courts. Government has no role in disposal of cases in courts. Timely disposal of cases in courts depends on several factors which, inter-alia, include availability of adequate number of judges and judicial officers, supporting court staff and physical infrastructure, complexity of facts involved, nature of evidence, co-operation of stake holders viz. bar, investigation agencies, witnesses and litigants and proper application of rules and procedures. There are several factors which may lead to delay in disposal of cases.  These, inter-alia, include vacancies of judges, frequent adjournments and lack of adequate arrangement to monitor, track and bunch cases for hearing. The Central Government is fully committed to speedy disposal of cases in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution and reducing pendency.  The Government has taken several initiatives to provide an ecosystem for faster disposal of cases by the judiciary.

After announcement of nation-wide lockdown from 25th March, 2020, directions have been issued from time to time by the respective High Courts to the Subordinate Courts under their administrative jurisdiction for hearing of urgent civil and criminal matters in virtual or physical mode depending on local conditions. Most High Courts have further advised district and subordinate courts that where there is no shut down/lockdown, they may, as far as possible, resume normal functioning by virtual/physical mode and take up all kind of cases, including those pertaining to under-trial prisoners, trial of civil cases, matrimonial disputes, child custody matters, recording of evidence and other old matters. Wherever physical hearing was permitted in district and subordinate courts, they were advised to strictly adhere to Covid protocols and social distancing norms and take all precautions including consent of the parties. A new Software Patch and Court User Manual has been developed for COVID- 19 Management. This tool has been developed to help in smart scheduling all cases to effectively manage overcrowding in courts. As regards the Supreme Court, an overarching order has been issued by the Supreme Court on 06.04.2020 giving legal sanctity and validity to video conference hearing.

National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms was set up in August, 2011 with the twin objectives of increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system and enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities.  The Mission has been pursuing a co-ordinated approach for phased liquidation of arrears and pendency in judicial administration, which, inter-alia, involves better infrastructure for courts including computerization, increase in strength of subordinate judiciary, policy and legislative measures in the areas prone to excessive litigation, re-engineering of court procedure for quick disposal of cases and emphasis on human resource development.

The major steps taken during the last seven years under various initiatives are as follows:

  1. Improving infrastructure for Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate CourtsAs on date, Rs. 8,758.71 crores have been released since the inception of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary in 1993-94. The number of court halls has increased from 15,818 as on 30.06.2014 to 20,812 as on 17.03.2022 and number of residential units has increased from 10,211 as on 30.06.2014 to 18,338 as on 17.03.2022 under this scheme. In addition, 2,767 court halls and 1,651 residential units are under construction. The Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary has been extended till 2025-26 at a total cost of Rs. 9000 crores, out of which Central share will be Rs. 5307 crores. Besides, construction of Court Halls and Residential Units, it would also cover construction of Lawyer’s Halls, Toilet Complexes and Digital Computer Rooms.
  2. Leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for improved justice delivery: Government has been implementing the e-Courts Mission Mode Project throughout the country for Information and Communication Technology enablement of district and subordinate courts. Number of computerized District & Subordinate courts has increased to 18,735 so far. WAN connectivity has been provided to 98.9% of court complexes. New and user-friendly version of Case Information Software has been developed and deployed at all the computerized District and Subordinate Courts.  All stakeholders including Judicial Officers can access information relating to judicial proceedings/decisions of computerized District & Subordinate Courts and High Courts on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG). As on 02.03.2022, litigants can access case status of over 19.92 crore cases and 16.81 crore order/judgments pertaining to these courts. eCourts services such as details of case registration, cause list, case status, daily orders & final judgments are available to litigants and advocates through eCourts web portal, Judicial Service Centres (JSC) in all computerized courts, eCourts Mobile App, email service, SMS push & pull services. Video Conferencing facility has been enabled between 3240 court complexes and 1272 corresponding jails. With a view to handle the COVID- 19 challenges better and to make the transition to virtual hearings smoother, 475 e-Sewa Kendras have been set up at court complexes to facilitate lawyers and litigants needing assistance ranging from case status, getting judgments/orders,  court/case related information and efiling facilities. Rs. 5.01 crores has been allocated for providing equipment in Video Conferencing cabins in various court complexes to facilitate virtual hearings. Rs. 12.12 crores has been allocated for 1732 Help desk counters for efiling in various court complexes.

Seventeen Virtual Courts have been set up in 13 States/UTs viz. Delhi (2), Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala (2), Maharashtra (2), Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir (2), Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh to try traffic offences. As on 03.03.2022, these courts have handled more than 1.32 crore cases and realized more than Rs. 229.22 crore in fines.

Video conferencing emerged as the mainstay of the Courts during the Covid lockdown period as physical hearings and normal court proceedings in the congregational mode were not possible. Since Covid lockdown started, the District courts heard 1,11,40,223 cases while the High Court heard 60,21,688 cases (totalling to 1.71 crore) till 30.01.2022 using video conferencing. The Supreme Court had 2,18,891 hearings since the lockdown period upto 14.03.2022.

3. Filling up of vacant positions in Supreme Court, High Courts and District and Subordinate Courts: From 01.05.2014 to 17.03.2022, 44 Judges were appointed in Supreme Court. 710 new Judges were appointed and 588 Additional Judges were made permanent in the High Courts. Sanctioned strength of Judges of High Courts has been increased from 906 in May, 2014 to 1104 currently. Sanctioned and working strength of Judicial Officers in District and Subordinate Courts has increased as follows:

As on

Sanctioned Strength

Working Strength

31.12.2013

19,518

15,115

21.03.2022

24,521

19,341

However, filling up of vacancies in Subordinate judiciary falls within the domain of the State Governments and High Courts concerned.

4. Reduction in Pendency through / follow up by Arrears Committees: In pursuance of Resolution passed in Chief Justices’ Conference held in April, 2015, Arrears Committees have been set up in High Courts to clear cases pending for more than five years.  Arrears Committees have been set up under District Judges too.  Arrears Committee has been constituted in the Supreme Court to formulate steps to reduce pendency of cases in High Courts and District Courts. In the past, Minister of Law & Justice has taken up the matter with Chief Justices of High Courts and Chief Ministers in the past drawing their attention to cases pending for more than five years and to take up pendency reduction campaign. The Department has developed an online portal for reporting by all High Courts on the compliance of Arrears Eradication Scheme guidelines of the Malimath Committee Report.

5. Emphasis on Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR): Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (as amended on 20th August, 2018) stipulates mandatory pre-institution mediation and settlement of commercial disputes. Amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 has been made by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2015 for expediting the speedy resolution of disputes by prescribing timelines.

6. Initiatives to Fast Track Special Type of Cases: The Fourteenth Finance Commission endorsed the proposal of the Government to strengthen the judicial system in States which included, inter-alia, establishing Fast Track Courts for cases of heinous crimes; cases involving senior citizens, women, children etc., and urged the State Governments to use the additional fiscal space provided in the form of enhanced tax devolution form 32% to 42% to meet such requirements. As on 31.01.2022, 915 Fast Track Courts are functional for heinous crimes, crimes against women and children etc. To fast track criminal cases involving elected MPs / MLAs, ten (10) Special Courts are functional in nine (9) States/UTs (1 each in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and 2 in NCT of Delhi). Further, Government has approved a scheme for setting up 1023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) across the country for expeditious disposal of pending cases of Rape under IPC and crimes under POCSO Act. As on date, 28 States/UTs have joined the scheme for setting up of 842 FTSCs including 363 ‘exclusive POCSO Courts’. Rs.140 crore was released in the financial year 2019-20 and Rs. 160.00 crore has been released during the financial year 2020-21 and Rs. 62.23 crore has been released during the FY 2021-22 upto 15.03.2022 for the scheme. 712 FTSCs are presently functional including 399 exclusive POCSO Courts, which disposed 81462 cases as on 28.02.2022. The continuation of the Scheme of FTSC has been approved for another two years (2021-23) at a total outlay of Rs. 1572.86 crore, including Rs. 971.70 crore as Central share.

 7. In addition, to reduce pendency and unclogging of the courts, the Government has recently amended various laws like the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 2018, the Commercial Courts (Amendment) Act, 2018, the Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018, the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2018.

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, in Lok Sabha today.

Online Dispute Resolution

Ministry of Law and Justice Press release dated 25 March 2022

The concept of Online Dispute Resolution(ODR) in India is at a nascent stage. In order to create an effective implementation framework for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India, the NITI Aayog had constituted a high level committee in June 2020under the chairmanship ofJustice A K Sikri, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India. The Committee was required to develop an action plan that can aid in mainstreaming ODR and thus promote access to justice through ODR.

The report of the committee titled “Designing the future of dispute Resolution: the ODR Policy Plan for India” was released on 29.11.2021.  The report recommends measures at three levels to tackle challenges in adopting ODR framework in India.

  1. At the structural level, it suggests actions to increase digital literacy, improve access to digital infrastructure and train professionals as neutrals to deliver ODR services.
  2. At the behavioural level, the report recommends adoption of ODR to address disputes involving Government departments and ministries.
  3. At the regulatory level, the report recommends a soft-touch approach to regulate ODR platforms and services. This involves laying down design and ethical principles to guide ODR service providers to self-regulate while fostering growth and innovations in the ecosystem.

The report also stresses on strengthening the existing legislative framework for ODR by introducing necessary amendments to statutes. The report offers a phased implementation framework for ODR in India.

The Government of India has already initiatedthe steps to strengthen ODR mechanisms in the country.  Acknowledging the importance of online dispute resolution, it has been proposed to provide for online mediation under the Mediation Bill, 2021 which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 20.12.2021. The online mediation is to be conducted in accordance with the process specified by the Mediation Council of India. The Bill ispresently under examination of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. 

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, in Lok Sabha today.

Live Streaming of Court Proceedings

Ministry of Law and Justice dated 25 March 2022

A Writ Petition was filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, seeking declaration for permitting live streaming of Supreme Court case proceedings of constitutional and national importance having an impact on the public at large and a direction to make available the necessary infrastructure for live streaming and to frame guidelines for the determination of such cases which are of constitutional and national importance. The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its Judgment dated 26th September, 2018 in

Writ Petition (Civil) No. 66 of 2018 – Indira Jai Singh versus Secretary General of Supreme Court & Others has, inter-alia, observed that : (i) it is important to re-emphasise the significance of live-streaming as an extension of the principle of open justice and open courts; (ii)The process of live-streaming should be subjected to carefully structured guidelines, (iii) Initially, a pilot project may be conducted for about three months by live-streaming only cases of national and constitutional importance which can be expanded in due course with availability of infrastructure.

The eCommittee of the Supreme Court has set up a Committee to draw up Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Live Streaming. Additionally, under the guidance of eCommittee, Supreme Court of India, a sub-committee was constituted for framing Model Rules for Live Streaming. The said rules have been forwarded to Computer Committee of High Courts for the feedback and suggestions.

Live Streaming of video conferencing of proceedings has been started in High Courts of Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Patna and Madhya Pradesh thus allowing media and other interested persons to join the proceedings.

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, in Lok Sabha today.

Establishment of Web Portal (Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS))

Ministry of Law and Justice Press Release 24 March 2022

The Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs had taken the initiative for launch of the Legal Information Management and Briefing System (LIMBS), a web based application for upload of information and monitoring of  court cases where Union of India is one of the parties. It is an innovative and easy to access online tool which is available 24×7 to all the stakeholders’ viz., government officials, department users, nodal officers, etc.

LIMBS Ver.2 is an upgraded version of LIMBS developed by NIC. It is a dashboard based system for the user Ministries/Departments on which they can feed the litigation matters pertaining to them and monitor them. This version is overhauled with the use of Open Source technologies using Coordinator framework of Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) to enhance the security of the system and improve the efficiency of the system. Till date, LIMBS Ver.2 has captured more than 8.06 lacs court cases (including archive cases) with 5.50 lakh live cases, 14204 registered users, more than 20000 advocates and 3302 courts on a single platform.

The Government has introduced Mediation Bill, 2021 in the Rajya Sabha on 20.12.2021 to enact a standalone law on Mediation.  The Bill aims to promote and facilitate mediation, especially institutional mediation, for resolution of disputes, commercial or otherwise, enforce mediated settlement agreements, provide for a body for registration of mediators, to encourage community mediation and to make online mediation as acceptable and cost effective process and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The Bill is presently under examination of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju Union Minister, Minister of Law and Justice, in Rajya Sabha today.

Implementation Of New Labour Codes (Press Release 21st March 2022)

“Labour” is in the Concurrent List of the Constitution and under 4 Labour Codes, rules are required to be framed by the Central Government as well as by the State Governments. As a step towards implementation of the four Labour Codes, the Central Government has published the draft Rules under 4 labour Codes, inviting suggestions and objections from all stakeholders. Till date, the provisions of Section 142 of the Code on Social Security, 2020 and the provisions related to the Central Advisory Board as specified under Section 42 and 67 of the Code on Wages, 2019 have come into effect.

As per available information, 27, 23, 21 and 18 States/UTs have pre-published draft Rules under the Code on Wages, 2019,  the Industrial Relations Code, 2020,  the Code on Social Security, 2020 and  the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 respectively.

There have been widespread consultations while finalizing all 4 Labour Codes. The details are as under:-

i.  All Codes were placed on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, inviting comments from all stakeholders including general public.

ii. Nine tripartite consultations were undertaken on all the four Codes on 10.03.2015, 13.04.2015, 06.05.2015, 14.07.2015, 06.10.2015, 04.10.2017, 22.11.2018, 27.11.2018 and 05.11.2019 inviting all Central Trade Unions, Employers’ Associations and State Governments. The stakeholders had participated in the afore-said tripartite meetings and gave suggestions on various aspects of Labour Codes.

iii. In addition to the above, seven Regional Conferences of State Labour Ministers and Principal Secretaries/Secretaries of State (Labour) were also held during January, 2017 to December, 2019 in which Codes were also discussed.

iv. All the Codes were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour for examination by the Lok Sabha which, while examining the Codes, had invited the views/suggestions from Trade Unions/Organizations/Individuals/Stakeholders including the State Governments. The Committee also took oral evidence of the representatives of Central Trade Unions and various other Associations/Organisations/Stakeholders/some State Governments.

This information was given by Shri Rameswar Teli, Minister of State, Ministry of Labour & Employment in Rajya Sabha today.

Access to Working Capital for MSMEs (Press release 21st March 2022)

The Government has taken a number of initiatives for providing financial assistance to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to cope with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including access to working capital. These include the following:

  1. Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) – maximum project cost is Rs. 25 lakh, which includes capital expenditure and working capital.
  2. Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) – maximum 85% guarantee is extended upto credit facility of Rs. 200 lakh, for both term loan and working capital. As per the Budget Announcement 2022-23, to facilitate an increased flow of credit, Rs. 2 lakh crore additional credit facility will be provided to Micro & Small Enterprises under this scheme.
  3. Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) – announced as part of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package in May, 2020 to provide Collateral free Automatic Loans for businesses, including MSMEs. Initially, the admissible limit of the guarantee was Rs. 3 lakh crore which was later enhanced to Rs. 4.5 lakh crore. As per the Budget Announcement 2022-23, the ECLGS is being extended up to March 2023 with an expanded guarantee cover of Rs. 5 lakh crore. The additional guarantee cover of Rs. 50,000 crore is earmarked exclusively for the hospitality and related enterprises.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Shri Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (Press release 21st March 2022)

The Registry of Supreme Court of India has compiled data on the status of judicial infrastructure and court amenities.  A proposal has been received from Chief Justice of India for setting up of National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (NJIAI) for arrangement of adequate infrastructure for courts, as per which there will be a Governing Body with Chief Justice of India as Patron-in-Chief. The other salient features of the proposal are that NJIAI will act as a Central body in laying down the road map for planning, creation, development, maintenance and management of functional infrastructure for the Indian Court System, besides identical structures under all the High Courts. The proposal has been sent to the various State Government/UTs, as they constitute an important stakeholder, for their views on the contours of the proposal to enable taking a considered view on the matter.

As far as the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary is concerned, the primary responsibility of development of Infrastructure facilities for judiciary rests with the State Governments.  To augment the resources of the State Governments, the Union Government has been implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Infrastructure Facilities in district and subordinate courts by providing financial assistance to State Governments / UTs in the prescribed fund sharing pattern. The scheme is being implemented since 1993-94. Till date, the Central Government has sanctioned Rs. 8758.71 crore under the Scheme to States/UTs, out of which Rs. 5314.40 crore has been released since 2014-15 which is around 60.68% of the total release under the scheme. The Government has approved the continuance of this CSS for a period of 5 years from 01.04.2021 to 31.03.2026, with a total budgetary outlay of Rs.9000 crores, including Central share of Rs.5307 crores. The scheme components have been expanded, to also cover the construction of toilets, digital computer rooms and Lawyers’ Hall, in addition to the Court Halls & Residential Units in the district and subordinate courts. Pursuant to the extension of the scheme and introduction of new features in the scheme, revised guidelines have been issued on 19.08.2021 for implementation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary.

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister, Ministry of Law and Justice, in Rajya Sabha today.

Online courts for ensuring fair trial (Press release 21 March 2022)

In the pre-Covid period, the virtual hearing setup was being used by most of the courts primarily for conducting remand matters without movement of prisoners between court and jails. This experience helped in expanding the video-conferencing (VC) of court hearings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.To bring about uniformity and standardization in the conduct of VC, an overarching order was passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 6th April 2020 which gave legal sanctity and validity to the court hearings done through VC. Further, Model VC rules were framed by a 5-judge committee which was circulated to all the High Courts for adoption after local contextualization. 23 High Courts have already adopted these Model Rules. Video conferencing emerged as the mainstay of the Courts during the Covid lockdown period as physical hearings and normal court proceedings in the congregational mode were not possible. Since Covid lockdown started, the District courts heard 1,11,40,223 cases while the High Court heard 60,21,688 cases (totalling 1.71 cr) till 31.01.2022 using video conferencing. The Supreme Court held 1,81,909 hearings till 08.01.2022 since the beginning of lockdown period.To augment the VC infrastructure of the Courts, one VC equipment each has been provided to all Court Complexes including Taluk level courts and additionally funds have been sanctioned for additional VC equipment for 14,443 court rooms. Funds for setting up 2506 VC Cabins have been made available. Additional 1500 VC Licenses have been acquired. VC facilities are already enabled between 3240 court complexes and corresponding 1272 jails. A sum of Rs. 7.60 crore has been released for procurement of 1732 Document Visualizers.

To bridge digital divide, Government has released Rs. 12.54 crore for setting up eSewa Kendras. As on 31.01.2022, 475 eSewa Kendras have been made functional under 25 High Courts. Rs. 12.12 cr has been allocated for creating 1732 Help Desk counters for e-Filing in Court Complexes; Judicial Service Centres have been established at all computerized courts to serve as a single window for filing petitions and applications by litigants / lawyers and for disseminating judicial information related to cause lists and other case related information to the lawyers and litigants through Info Kiosks. Mobile e-courts van equipped with Wi-Fi and computers for video conferencing for speedy disposal of cases have also been started in Uttarakhand and Telangana High Courts.Training programs and awareness campaigns have been conducted from time to time to train various stakeholders to bridge digital divide and familiarise them with court digitisation initiatives. Towards creating awareness and familiarization of e-Filing amongst lawyers, Webinars on e-Filing for Tamil Nadu, Goa, Maharashtra and Delhi Bar Council was organized during June 2020 which had more than 19,000 viewers. A Manual on e-Filing entitled as “Step by Step Guide for e-Filing” has been prepared and made available on the e-Filing portal, in both English and Hindi, for use of advocates and litigants.  It has also been released in 11 regional languages. The e-Committee, Supreme Court of India has issued user manual for e-Courts Services Mobile Application and uploaded it on the official website of e-Committee in 14 languages namely English, Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Khasi, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.  A Brochure in English and Hindi on “How to register for e-Filing” has been made available on the e-Filing portal for the use of lawyers. It has also been released in 12 regional languages. As part of awareness campaign, a YouTube Channel has been created in the name of eCourts Services where video tutorials on e-Filing have been made available for larger outreach to stakeholders. 12 self-help videos on e-Filing in 7 regional languages apart from Hindi and English was prepared and circulated for the advocates as part of awareness raising programme. The said videos are available in the e filing portal help desk and also in the social media through the eCommittee YouTube channel. To conduct awareness programme for advocates on eFiling and ECMT tools under eCourt Services, training of trainers has already been undertaken by eCommittee of the Supreme Court at the National and State level. 25 Master Trainers have been trained in each High Court who in turn has already trained 5409 Master Trainers across the country. These, 5409 Master Trainers have in turn imparted training programme on eCourt Services and eFiling in each district of the country for advocates in their regional languages and also identified Master Trainer Advocates.

 

This information was given by Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister, Ministry of Law and Justice, in Rajya Sabha today.