Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has written to Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking immediate intervention of the Central government to augment technological and judicial infrastructure facilities all across India, particularly rural and tribal regions.
In his letter, the CJI said that he recently had an interaction with Chief Justices of all High Courts and one of the issues which emerged from that discussion was digital divide which was proving to be an impediment for courts to deliver justice, especially in the rural and tribal areas.
He, therefore, exhorted the Union government to "strengthen the network and connectivity beyond major urban centres, particularly in rural and tribal areas, as the digital divide is adversely impacting the functioning of the Courts in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic."
Pertinently, the letter also urged the Central government to provide financial support to advocates, especially the junior advocates, who are struggling to make both ends meet due to loss of work due to COVID-19 pandemic.
"Intervention of the centre is needed to provide financial support to advocates, especially the junior advocates, who are struggling to make both ends meet due to loss of work for more than a year since the onset of pandemic," the letter said.
The letter also asked the Centre to consider augmenting the provisioning of vaccines to immunise all the functionaries associated with the courts and their families across the country to facilitate full-scale functioning.
CJI Ramana further requested the Law Minister to look into the issue of recognising all the functionaries of courts, including the advocates, as front-line workers for the purpose of providing pandemic related relief.
CJI Ramana requested the Law Minister to take up these issues with the concerned ministries/ departments at the highest level.
With regard to judicial infrastructure, the letter stated that the same needs to be augmented with latest information and communication technology tools to facilitate access to justice during and post pandemic time.
"The judicial infrastructure needs to be streamlined and revamped to deal with the challenges of pendency. A blue print of the proposal to set up the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) is in the final stages of preparation and will be shared with the Union Government shortly. I am of the firm belief that concerted efforts need to be put in, in order to materialize this concept, in view of the challenges put forth by the pandemic," reads the letter.
CJI also mentioned that during his interaction with the Chief Justices of all the High Courts, he has impressed upon them, the need to expedite the process of sending recommendations through Collegium to fill up the vacancies in the respective High Courts.