Here is a brief gist of responses received on the fifteenth day of the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament. The Lower House saw responses on a plethora of questions ranging from digitization of Court and bail orders, installation of CCTV cameras, impact of COVID on lawyers and crimes against women..To a question by Shiv Sena Member of Parliament (MP) Sadashiv Kisan Lokhande on whether there has been a misuse of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said there hasn't been any as per the Election Commission of India. "The ECI has informed that voting machines used by it are designed to meet the requirements of electoral laws/process, being followed in India. According to ECI, EVMs are fully secure due to its technical and administrative safeguards," he added..To a question on crimes against women, Rijiju said that 914 fast track courts are functional for dealing with heinous crimes, crimes against women and children etc. "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," he told Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Member of Parliament Ram Verma. .On a question by 2 MPs on the absence of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) bench in Andhra Pradesh causing great inconvenience to many petitioners, Rijiju said that there is no proposal to establish the same at Vishakapatnam. .A question was tabled before the Lok Sabha by 2 MPs on the impact of COVID-19 on lawyers. Rijiju responded by mentioning that there has been no study to assess the impact of the pandemic on lawyers by the Ministry of Law and Justice, nor is there a proposal for financial assistance to them..A question was posed by DMK MP Ravikumar D on the steps taken by the Law Ministry to digitize the delivery of court orders including bail orders of High Courts and Supreme Court to the prison authorities.Rijiju responding to the question, stated that “the FASTER (Fast and Secured Transmission of Electronic Records) system has been taken up for implementation for enabling transmission of e-authenticated copies of the interim orders, stay orders, bail orders and record of proceedings to the duty holders for compliance and due execution, through a secured electronic communication channel.”The response also stated that the integration of e-prisons software and case information software through Application Programme Interface (API) is being taken up for High Courts and District Courts, to digitize delivery of court orders including bail orders.On the aspect of installation of CCTV cameras in prisons, a total of 22,456 cameras have been installed in prisons across the country. The table below shows the State-wise number of CCTVs installed..A question was posed by Congress MP Deepak Baij on whether the cases in courts are taking longer than usual time due to shortage of manpower in the judiciary in proportion to the population.Kiren Rijiju said the different initiatives are being taken by the Central government in this regard and funds have been allocated for the same.As on date, ₹8,709.77 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 June 30, 2014 to 20,565 as on October 31, 2021 and number of residential units has increased from 10,211 as on June 30, 2014 to 18,142 as on October 31, 2021 under this scheme. In addition, 2,841 court halls and 1,807 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 ₹9000 crores, out of which Central share will be ₹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.From May 1, 2014 to December 14, 2021, 44 Judges were appointed to the Supreme Court. 690 new Judges were appointed and 583 Additional Judges were made permanent in the High Courts..Parliament Watch: e-Courts, Supreme Court appeals, foreign citizenship [Day 9 round up].From December 14, 2018 to December 13, 2021 the Supreme Court collegium has “reiterated 32 proposals, out of which Government has appointed 9 recommendees as High Court Judges and 23 proposals are under various stages of processing with the Government,” the Law Minister said in response to a question on whether the government has withheld any names recommended to the collegium and whether the collegium has reiterated any recommended names in the last 3 years..A question was tabled before the Lok Sabha on the appointment and vacancies in the higher judiciary and also on the pendency of cases in the High Courts and Supreme Court.Rijiju said that against the sanctioned strength of 1,098 Judges in High Courts, there are 694 working judges leaving 404 vacancies. 120 Judges have been appointed in High Courts from the first day of 2021 till date. 167 proposals are pending/under process with the Supreme Court collegium and government. There are 237 vacancies for which recommendations have not been received from High Courts. During the period from January 1, 2021 till date, 12 Judges have been appointed in the Kerala High Court and 3 proposals are at different stages of consideration.There is only 1 vacant seat in the Supreme Court judiciary with the total working strength at 33 judges.In the Supreme Court, from May, 2014 to December 14, 2021, “44 Judges were appointed to the Supreme Court. 690 new Judges were appointed and 583 Additional Judges were made permanent in the High Courts,” the response mentioned.The total number of pending civil cases across High Court is 40,81,024 and the total number of pending criminal cases across High Courts is 15,59,617 - taking the total count of pendency to 56,40,641 cases.