How the Union Budget 2023 will affect the legal system: A closer look

Despite tensions between the judiciary and the Law Minister, the Union Budget was devoted to significant allocations for upgrading infrastructure in courts.

India shines like a beacon of success, and there is no doubt that the world has taken notice of its rise in the global economy. Despite the major economic slowdown wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, India has held its own.

One cannot ignore the fact that since the appointment of the current Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, tensions between the judiciary and the Law Minister have made the news almost every week, whether it be over the controversial Collegium system or appointments of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. Yet, despite this ongoing feud, the Union Budget was devoted to significant allocations for the upgrading of the infrastructure of the judiciary.

A shot in the arm for the Indian judicial system

The allocation of ₹7,000 crore for implementation of Phase III of the eCourts Project is an encouraging step, with the potential to revolutionize India's justice system.

The pandemic showed us the true potential of virtual court hearings and the need for a more accessible virtual justice delivery system. With the Government of India's ₹7,000 crore allocation for Phase III of eCourts, we are now more equipped to make the Indian judicial system more equitable, efficient, and accessible to all stakeholders.

Efficient administration of justice is crucial for any society aiming to encourage individuals and businesses to thrive, without feeling hindered by potential risks or slow judicial processes. Since 2005, the eCourts project has been aiming to not just digitize paper-based processes, but to also transform processes for a digital environment. With Phase III, litigants and lawyers will be able to file a case from anywhere, at any time.

This commitment towards effective judicial reform and efficient justice delivery is a step towards making India a better place to do business in.

The government has also taken steps to simplify compliance and ease of doing business, such as ensuring PAN cards can be used as a common ID across government portals. Together, these measures could lead to greater economic growth and stability across India.

Enabling quicker KYC

The PAN card is set to be used as the single identifier for digital systems of specified government agencies, supported by a legal mandate leading to quicker KYC processes. This shift is set to reduce the time-consuming approval processes for individuals and businesses, as multiple identification credentials such as TIN, GSTIN and CIN are no longer required. The result is a reduced compliance burden, creating a more efficient and easier experience for business operations. A clear legal framework for implementing the PAN card as a common identifier is being drawn up prior to the full rollout of this process.

Ease of access to fintech and banking services

The Government of India also announced the reduction of 39,000 legal compliances, along with the scope of documents available in the DigiLocker being enhanced to provide easier access to fintech services, banking, and insurance through reducing paperwork.

Over 3,400 legal provisions have been decriminalized, most notably the two-year prison sentence provided under Section 276A of the Income Tax Act. This move will prove to be beneficial for the growth of the country's fintech services, and will reduce the burden of paperwork in many sectors.

Ensuring Right to Life and Personal Liberty for all citizens

The Right to Life and Personal Liberty is a fundamental right of every citizen, enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Justice VR Krishna Iyer in State of Rajasthan, Jaipur v. Balchand emphatically stated,

“The basic rule may perhaps be tersely put as bail, not jail.”

Unfortunately, the reality is that nearly 80% of prisoners in Indian jails are undertrials – individuals unable to post bail due to poverty or financial distress.

The current Budget has proposed to provide financial assistance for such undertrial inmates, so that they are no longer held in prison for long periods of time for the sole reason of being unable to pay for their release. This move is encouraging and could render a huge difference in the lives of these individuals, affording them a new lease on life and an opportunity to start anew.

With the help of this proposed move, we can move closer to making Justice Iyer's words a reality.


Through the Union Budget 2023-24, the Central government has made strides in previously untouched sectors and aims to reduce legal complexities, invest generously in both civic and business infrastructure, and modernize the justice delivery system. These strong fundamentals have put India in an even better position to thrive in the future.

Satya Muley is the founder of Satya Muley & Co, based out of Pune, Maharashtra. He is a practicing lawyer in the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court. 

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