Justice Ramana moots national judicial infrastructure corpn, asks lawyers to do more pro-bono work

Supreme Court judge Justice N.V. Ramana has said the Centre and states must come together and create a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation so that modernization of judicial infrastructure is not hostage to financial constraints.

Justice Ramana was speaking at the new High Court of Bombay in Goa. Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde inaugurated the new building for the Bombay High Court at Goa in the presence of Justice Ramana, Justice B.R. Gavai, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Bombay High Court judge Justice S.S. Shinde, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Highlighting India's insufficient judicial infrastructure, Justice Ramana said we have seen courts operating from dilapidated old structures and rented premises, without proper record rooms or even staff. There are premises without washrooms, waiting rooms, creche services, or disabled friendly infrastructure for litigants and lawyers. "Situations like this have an adverse impact on the qualitative dispensation of justice.  Therefore, it is important to concentrate our efforts on modernization of the judiciary," said Justice Ramana, who is set to take over as the next chief justice of the Supreme Court after CJI Bobde's superannuation.

Focusing on strengthening the judicial infrastructure, Justice Ramana said it is the most important tool to reduce pendency of cases and clear the backlog. He pointed out that understanding of judicial infrastructure, however, has to transcend beyond the issues of pendency, vacancy or the number of courtrooms to modernization, upgradation and creating a “barrier free-citizen friendly environment”.

The premises of the new High Court across 1 lakh square feet have been built at an estimated cost of Rs 120 crore with all modern facilities and amenities. The new premises will become the new norm for construction of future court buildings, catering to bring about an era of access to justice, Justice Ramana said.

Justice Ramana said the focal point of any justice delivery system is the litigant-the justice seeker. The learned members of the Bar have an integral role to play in delivering justice. "As our population is predominantly rural with low income,  the lawyers should attempt to do as much pro-bono work as possible. If senior lawyers do at least two pro-bono cases a month, it would change the legal aid landscape of the country and will definitely increase the quality of service," he said.

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Justice Ramana hailed the efforts of the Central Government and CJI Bobde in the times of the pandemic, which has placed an immense challenge to the legal profession. The introduction of virtual hearings solved the issues of geographical and spatial limitations and brought justice to the people’s doorstep. Providing independent Video Conferencing facility to all Courts, e-filing counters, digitization of records etc., are steps in that direction, he said.