The central government is working towards reducing the pendency of cases in courts as well as vacancies in the subordinate judiciary, a senior Law Ministry official said on Sunday.
According to G R Raghavender, a joint secretary in the Law Ministry, the Centre has introduced a mobile application — Justice App — meant exclusively for judges across the country to help them track how many cases are pending before them.
Besides that the government has also upgraded the judicial infrastructure by introducing Information Communication Technology (ICT) to more and more courts in the country, the official said.
With regard to the mobile phone app, Raghavender said it has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and is not available on the Google Play store or Apple app store.
Instead, the application would be sent to the judges via a messaging platform from which they can download and install it, he said.
"Through Justice App, a judge can see how many five-year-old or ten-year-old cases are pending before him/her and the judge can accordingly prioritize which case has to be taken first," he said during an online interactive session with advocate Sumit Nagpal on a YouTube channel called Spread Law.
Raghavender was speaking on the topic: 'What the Govt is doing to improve the Legal System'.
He further said the burden to reduce pendency is not only on the judiciary but also on the central government as 40 per cent of the litigation is of the government.
"So the government has been placing focus on tackling the pending litigation," he said.
On the use of ICT in the legal system, he said the first phase of the e-courts project was in 2011-2015 and during that phase computerization of courts took place.
"Wifi connection was given to 13,672 courts and computerization for more than 14,200 courts. More than 14,000 laptops distributed to judges including judges of High Courts and district and subordinate courts. The government has completed two phases. That was the focus of eCourt project."
Talking about the second phase, he said, "The ICT-enabled courts have increased to 16,845. Video conferencing facility has been made available in 3,240 district court complexes and 1,280 jails".
On the issue of addressing the rising number of vacancies in the subordinate judiciary, Raghavender said the government was keen on introducing the All India Judicial Services (AIJS), if there was a consensus within the judiciary.
He said the idea has not become a reality yet as various High Courts have not been able to build consensus over the subject.
He claimed that AIJS can solve the issue of the rising number of vacancies in the subordinate judiciary.
He said as against the total mandated strength of 24,064 judges, only 19,160 have been appointed and nearly 5,000 vacancies remain.
"The High Courts of Sikkim and Haryana and the governments of Haryana, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura favoured the constitution of AIJS whereas Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh are against this idea.
"Various High Courts have agreed. Some have agreed with changes. Few have not agreed saying that the control of the High Court over appointment of judges cannot be taken away," Raghavender said.