Parliament Watch tracks the answers to important Parliamentary Questions raised during the latest session..Here is an overview of some important Parliamentary Questions which were raised by Members of Parliament (MPs) during the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament..Support on Farms laws.A question was raised by Syed Imtiaz Jaleel and Asaduddin Owaisi on whether “some countries including PIOs (persons of Indian origin) have given support to the agitation of Indian farmers against three bills passed by Indian Parliament.”A query was also made on “whether the Government has taken up the matter with these countries warning them not to interfere in the internal matters of India.”.Minister of External Affairs, V Muraleedharan responded that in Canada, UK, USA, and some European countries, protests by a few motivated PIOs on issues related to the Indian Farm Bill have been reported. It was also noted that the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a comment on issues related to farmers in India..On the issue of whether any warning was given not to interfere, the Government has stated,“We have taken up this matter with the Canadian authorities both in Ottawa and New Delhi and conveyed that such comments pertaining to the internal affairs of the India are unwarranted, unacceptable and would damage India-Canada bilateral relations. Government of Canada has welcomed the Government of India’s commitment to ongoing dialogue with the farmers to discuss issues of concern.”.Vacancy of Judges.A question on the vacancies and appointment of Judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts was pressed forward by Kalyan Banerjee. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has replied that, “As on 01.02.2021, there were 4 vacancies of Judges in the Supreme Court and 419 vacancies of Judges in 25 High Courts. Further, there were 31, 30 and 40 vacancies of judges in the High Courts of Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta respectively.”.The Law Minister has also informed that from 2014 till January 25, 2021, the judge appointments made are as follows:35 Judges were appointed in Supreme Court of India570 fresh Judges were appointed in the various High Courts520 Additional Judges were appointed as Permanent Judges of High Courts.Digital Literacy and High Speed.On digital literacy and High-speed internet access, a question was posed by Shankar Lalwani and Shrimati Queen Oja on the “number of villages where the facility of high-speed internet is not available, State/UT-wise including Gujarat.”.The Minister of Communications, Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad has informed that around 37,439 census villages in the country are not covered by high-speed 3G/4G mobile connectivity. In Gujarat State, 775 villages are not covered by high speed 3G/4G mobile connectivity..These villages are being covered with high speed internet facility under schemes of the Government and Telecom Service Providers in a phased manner, Prasad added..Pending Civil and Criminal cases in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.Vinayak Raut and Shrimati Rekha Verma have asked various questions on the number of civil and criminal cases pending before subordinate courts in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. .The Law Minister has informed that in Maharashtra there were 13,63,965 civil and 31,40,608 criminal cases pending till 2020. In Uttar Pradesh 18,05,336 civil and 69,75,768 criminal cases are pending..One query concerned “the details of the vacancies of judges in the lower courts in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh along with the vacancies filled during the years 2020 and 2021.”.It was informed that 7 of 292 vacancies were filled up in Maharashtra's lower courts and 84 of 1046 vacancies in Uttar Pradesh's lower courts were filled up last year. .A question was also asked on the average time taken by the court for the disposal of cases. However, the Law Minister informed that "No data is centrally maintained" on the average case disposal time "as it depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.".Women Judges.In response to a query on the number of women who are currently serving as Judges in the High Courts, Law Minister Prasad has informed that 77 women are serving as Judges in the High Courts as on January 20, 2021. .India Justice Report 2020 launched: 29% of judges in India are women, 2/3rd prisoners in India are undertrial prisoners [Read Report].However, as far as women advocates are concerned, the Law Minister has informed that such information is not centrally maintained..On steps taken by the Ministry to include more women in the judicial system, Prasad has replied by stating that the Central government has a limited role in judge appointments. ."The appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution of India respectively. These Articles do not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons. The Government has, however, been requesting the Chief Justices of the High Courts that while sending proposals for appointment of Judges, due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women", reads the reply. .Functioning of Village courts across the country.In another question, which was raised by Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal was on “the total number of village courts functioning in the country including Bihar”, and about the structure of the said village courts..Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad informed that out of 113 notified Gram Nyayalyas in Uttar Pradesh, only 14 are operating at present. .All over, a total of 402 Village courts have been notified out of which 225 are functioning at present, the Centre has informed..E-Courts.Various initiatives to boost the infrastructure for virtual courts and e-mission mode is underway, the Law Minister has informed. .Among other updates, it has been noted that under the eCourts Mission Mode Project Phase-II, computerization of 18,735 District and Subordinate Courts has been completed. Further:To provide an end to end digital solution, the Case Information System using free and open-source software automates the entire process of the court registry. Several services have been provided to litigants, lawyers and other stakeholders, such as details of case registration, cause list, case status, daily orders & final judgments through eCourts web portal, Judicial Service Centres (JSCs) ,eCourts Mobile App, email service, SMS push an SMS pull services and touch screen based Information Kiosks. The National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) for District & Subordinate Courts has been created as an online platform which provides information relating to judicial proceedings/decisions of all High Courts and District /subordinate courts of the country.Currently, all stakeholders including Judicial Officers and lawyers can access case status information in respect of over 17.90 crore pending and disposed cases and more than 13.36 crore orders/judgments pertaining to these computerized courts. Video Conferencing facility has been enabled between 3,240 court complexes and 1,272 corresponding jails.."Under the ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ initiative of Govt. of India, Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology has evaluated and shortlisted indigenously developed VC solution which is currently under testing", the Law Minister has added.."Idea is to demystify the operations of the court system", Justice DY Chandrachud launches new Supreme Court e-committee website.Ban on Chinese Mobile Applications.A query was posed on “whether the Government has blocked 43 more mobile apps, including major Chinese ones such as Ali Suppliers, Ali Express, Ali pay Cashier etc. citing threat to national security, integrity and sovereignty, under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.”.Answering in the affirmative, the MEITY Minister, Sanjay Dhotre said that these apps were blocked primarily in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State and defence of India. ."These 43 Apps are blocked for public access in the country”, the Minister said..Indian Govt bans PUBG, 117 other apps citing interests of National Sovereignty, Integrity, Security, Public Order.Aarogaya Setu Application.In response to a query on whether the Aarogya Setu COVID-19 tracking app was created through a public-private partnership, the Centre, while answering in the affirmative, has said,"The Aarogya Setu App has been developed by National Informatics Centre, in partnership with individual volunteers from industry and academia.".The government added that Individual volunteers from industry and academia made their contributions to the App development “on a pro-bono basis in an individual capacity.”.Selective listing in Supreme Court.A question was raised whether the “government is aware that selective listing is allegedly being done in Hon’ble Supreme Court while hundreds of bail applications are pending.”.Apart from answering the query in the negative, it was observed by the Minister of Law and Justice that the “Government is committed to independence of judiciary. Listing of cases in the Supreme Court falls within the domain of the Supreme Court Registry and the Government has no role to play in this matter.”."Is there a special direction from CJI?" Senior Adv Dushyant Dave questions SC Registry on urgent listing of Arnab Goswami's plea.Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance, 2020.A number of legislators have asked questions on the applicability and consequences of the Arbitration and Conciliation, Ordinance, 2020. The queries posed include:Whether the Government as part of its push to improve India’s ranking in the ease of doing business, also brought in the Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance 2020 to amend the arbitration law;Whether the Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance 2020 seeks to re-calibrate the balance between autonomy of the arbitration process and oversight by the courts;.As part of its reply, the Centre has stated that the amendment would "not only strengthen the enforcement of contract regime but will also attract both domestic and international investors, to choose India as the preferred destination for getting their disputes resolved in a time bound manner.".It is noted the ordinance has omitted the Eighth Schedule of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which had earlier laid down qualifications, experience and norms for the accreditation of arbitrators. With this change, "eminent arbitrators would be facilitated to conduct arbitration in India subject to the regulations to be framed by the Arbitration Council of India", the government said. .The 2020 Ordinance also amended Section 36 of the Act relating to the enforcement of arbitral award. ."The amendment in section 36 has been carried out to address the issue of corrupt practices in securing contracts or arbitral awards and only provides for unconditional stay on enforcement if the Court is prima facie satisfied that the underlying arbitration agreement or contract or making of the arbitral award are induced by fraud or corruption", the government has said in its reply.