SC directives for vital facilities in court complexes remain unimplemented

Lack of coordination between Govt, judiciary creates impediment
Help desks, dispensaries, disabled-friendly infra remain dream

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 25: Notwithstanding the fact that a sound infrastructure is the linchpin of a strong and stable judicial system, the Supreme Court’s directions for creation of vital facilities in all the court complexes across Jammu and Kashmir have remained unimplemented during the past over 10 months due to lack of coordination between the State Government and the judiciary.
In a Writ Petition titled All India Judges Association and Others Versus Union of India and Others, a Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra in its judgment dated August 2, 2018 had observed, “the responsibility for securing justice to the citizenry of the country rests upon the judiciary which makes it imperative upon the State to provide the judicial wing the requisite infrastructure commensurate with the Constitutional obligation of the judiciary”.
“It needs to be understood that without a robust infrastructure, the judiciary would not be able to function at its optimum level and in turn would fail to deliver the desired results. We deem it extremely necessary to declare that it is essential to provide basic infrastructural facilities, amenities, utilities and access oriented features in all court complexes in the country as it is axiomatic that infrastructure forms the core for efficient and efficacious dispensation of speedy and qualitative justice”, the Apex Court bench had further stated.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court had issued 14 directions to all the States across the country and the copy of the same was forwarded to the Chief Secretaries for initiating appropriate action to implement the directives in the shortest possible time-frame.
However, despite lapse of over eight months, majority of the directions vis-a-vis fundamental and vital features to be provided in all the court complexes have remained unimplemented in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“There are very few court complexes in Jammu and Kashmir including both the wings of the State High Court which have features for the benefit of the vulnerable persons such as persons with disability or visually impaired persons although much thrust on this aspect was laid by the Apex Court”, sources informed, adding “there is hardly any court complex which have signage in Braille for the benefit of the visually impaired citizens”.
Moreover, operational help desks with trained court staff to brief and guide the citizens about the layout of the court premises have not been established till date in majority of the court complexes in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Similarly, electronic case display systems for the litigants and lawyers with the feature of automatic update in every ten seconds has remained dream in respect of maximum number of court complexes despite explicit directive in this regard by the Supreme Court”, sources further informed, adding “even possibilities and feasibilities of constructing underground or multi-level parking facilities in the court complexes have not been explored till date”.
Even no headway has been made on the appointment of professionally qualified court managers preferably with MBA degrees to render assistance in performing the court administration, they said while informing that some years back an attempt in this regard was made by utilizing the funds available under 13th Finance Commission but due to dispute between the Government and the High Court exercise could not reach the logical conclusion.
It is pertinent to mention here that court managers have an important role to play in enhancing the efficiency of the district judicial system by assisting Principal District and Sessions Judges. Moreover, they can help in identifying the weaknesses in the court management systems and recommending workable steps.
Solar power installation in each District Court Complex and establishment of dispensary with adequate medical staff and equipments for the lawyers as well as litigants are among the other directives of the Apex Court which have remained unimplemented during the past over eight months, sources said while disclosing that none of the District Court Complex in the State is having dispensary and this facility is available only in the Jammu and Srinagar wings of the High Court.
When contacted, an officer of the highest judiciary admitted, on the condition of anonymity, that majority of the directives of the Supreme Court have remained unimplemented till date because of one or the other reason.
“The lack of coordination between the judiciary and the State Government is responsible for inaction on the directions of the Apex Court”, sources said while disclosing that M Shoeb Alam, Advocate on Record, Supreme Court of India has also dashed a communication to the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of J&K Government seeking implementation status of the directions issued by the Apex Court over eight months back”.