This article is written by Ayush Agarwal, a student of UPES.
Sathasivam former Chief Justice of India had in his farewell speech said “Budget allocation for judiciary is a serious concern. In so far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the government is not providing sufficient budget and, time and again, the Chief Justice has to intervene to seek sufficient allocation of Budget.“
When we think about the courts what comes into the mind is not the sound legal system and the set of sound rules and regulation which will help to access to justice, the first picture which comes into the mind is a whole lot of lawyers running to grab you for cases and splash of Indian Pan in every corner of the building. The institutions which impart justice and frame such rules and regulations for the upliftment of law and justice and indirectly the standard of the society, is so ill managed and not up to the mark.
When budget comes for the year the first thing which a common man looks into is the cuts which the government has made in the taxes, how much the rates of a ticket has risen and then comes the news pundit to comment on all the aspects. The highlight of the budget is also the allocation made to the defense sector of the India which generally tends to be around 10% of the whole of the budget. One thing which never gets highlighted in the budget is the amount which has been allotted for the Law and Ministry, to which every citizen of India is directly or indirectly related. The problem is not with the officials, it’s with the awareness among the masses. Statistics reveals the judiciary is slow in disposing off the cases, but no one sees to the reality that whether the ministry is actually allocating the appropriate resources to dispose these amounts of cases.
How said it is when the independent Judiciary had to request the finance minister for the grant of ₹45 Crore for the construction of additional building complex adjacent to Pragati Maidan.
Let’s look into some of the segments where the Judiciary needs appropriations:
Disposing off the Cases: Statistics shows that the Judiciary is having 3,00,00,000 pending cases. To dispose these cases Judiciary needs to make appointments, to develop courts and the judiciary needs to run these courts. For all this there has to independent appropriation made.
Building Infrastructure: Judiciary does not only comprise of Supreme Court, High Court and District Court. It also comprises of Tribunals, Special Courts, Alternate Dispute Resolution Center and various other forms of Courts. Every courts needs fund to manage itself, to provide services and to change with the changing need of times. Funds allotted to the Judiciary are no way sufficient that the judiciary maintains and develops its infrastructure facilities.
Training Personnel: Judiciary needs appropriations to train its employees. Judiciary does not comprise of just quality judges and lawyers. There is large number of other people associated with the judiciary. To provide training to them, judiciary needs appropriations.
Technological Advancement: All courts are online now. Cases and Legislations are uploaded on the Court’s website as soon as they are delivered. So to manage these sites technical experts are needed to be hired. The Judiciary needs appropriations for this also.
There are many other sectors where the judiciary needs money to be spent. The question is whether Judiciary is having money to meet all the demands?
Let’s look into the Budget of the Year 2014-15
The budget in total allocates ₹2047 Crore to the judiciary, which counts to just 0.4% of the total budget for the year.
The budget which counts to ₹2047 crore does not solely comprise of the budget appropriated to the courts. Let’s look into the places where the allocation is actually made:
- Administration of Justice: To administer Justice a total of ₹344.63 Crore has been allocated. The details of the expenditureincludes:
- Expenses on National Judicial Academy- ₹10.74 Crore
- Computerization of District and Subordinate Courts: ₹58.00 Crore
- Special Courts: ₹5.00 Crore
- Fast Track Courts: No Fund Specified.
- Grants-in-aid to UTs without Legislature for infrastructural facility for Judiciary: No Fund Specified for the Current Year.
- Other Expenditure: ₹ 173.09 Crores.
- Strengthening of Access to Justice-India (SAJI): ₹5 Crore.
- National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms: ₹ 87.30 Crores.
- Study of Judicial Reforms and Assessment Status: No fund is specified.
- International Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR): ₹5.50 Crores.
- Assistance to State Governments for establishing and operating Gram Nyayalayas: No fund is specified for the current year.
- Other administrative Expenses: Funds allocated for other administrative expenses amount to ₹73.46 Crores. Let’s look into the details:
- Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary: No allocation of Fund
- Grand-in-aid to UT governments: No allocation of Fund.
- Other programmes: ₹19.09 Crores.
- Capital Outlay on Other Administrative Services: 54.37 Crores.
- Total Secretariat: General Services which includes Department of Legal Affairs, Appellate Tribunal for Foreign Exchange (ATFE), Legislative Department, Department of Justice and others. In total of ₹94.71 is being allocated to this sector.
- Total Organs of State Elections: Organs of State Elections are included in this budged, which includes Elections in the State, normal Election Expenses and Issue of Identity Cards to Voters. The budget allocated for total-organs of state election amounts to ₹526.63 Crore.
- Total Fiscal Service: It includes expenses made for Income Tax Tribunal and National Tax Tribunal. The amount allocated for the Tribunals amount to ₹55.64 Crore.
- For Development of Infrastructure Facilities of Judiciary (State and UT plan): For the development of Infrastructure of the Judiciary in all the 29 States the Central allocates ₹ 936 Crore under planned expenditure.
The budget allocation indicates the appropriation made by the Legislature to the Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court gets ₹134.36 Crore in total. This allocation includes:
- Salaries and Travel Expenses made in respect of Hon’ble Chief Justice and other judges.
- staff and officers of the Registry including the Departmental Canteen,
- Charges for professional service towards personnel deployed for security and expenditure on establishment related needs including stationery, office equipments, and security equipments, maintenance of CCTV and printing of annual Report of the Supreme Court.
Actual allocation of the Budget by the Government
The central and the state government allocate the maximum of their budget for health and education and spends insufficient amount on Judiciary. Every ruling party in its manifesto for the election promises free schemes to the common public which mainly includes subsidizing government made goods, schemes for the elderlies and schemes for education of children and decreasing gap among rich and poor. The manifesto does not even consider judiciary important so as to organize funds or to make any establishment in the infrastructure of the judiciary.
Legislature has the authority to make new laws put the power to interpret new laws in the hands of Judiciary. Every year legislature makes in new laws for the country. New laws create floodgates of new cases into the judiciary. The mark of the pending cases goes up, if in these type of situations judiciary does not provide support of sufficient and fully furnished infrastructure and trained and sufficient personnel by the way of judges and staff, the blame on the judiciary would be again misplaced in the way that the judicial process is slow and then again the number of pending cases will be a highlighted issue.
Allocation of the bigger portion of budget in the segments other than judiciary amounts to parallel situation where judiciary is not able to discharge its functions in the way it is expected to do so.
Need of the Hour
Judiciary is one the independent wing among the three wings of the constitution. Every year the law making organ of the Constitution i.e, Parliament passes law and related cases gets bundled up with the cause list of the Judiciary. Now the picture of the pile exceeding to three crore is in the eyes of public and a well commented fact by the media and political party, but the sources and resources to tackle with such a huge number of cases is very much suppressed fact. The political discussion on the judiciary and pending matters relates to the vacancy in the court of Justice but if appointed then the judiciary needs to have appropriate funds to tackle such amount of loads. Is Judiciary given such liberty? That is the question of the hour.
What are expectations?
Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha has said, “the negligible budgetary allocation being witnessed since the past few decades is grossly inadequate to meet the requirements of the judiciary such as setting up of new courts and to improve infrastructure to bring down the pendency from a staggering 3.3 crore cases.”
“Budget allocation is not even one per cent. It is 0.4 per cent. How do we construct more courts and improve infrastructure for speedy dispensation of justice? We are already overburdened,” he said, referring to the budgetary allocation in the 2013-14 even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was presenting the Budget for 2014-15.
Funds raised by Judiciary: Judiciary has three major sources of funds from within itself- court fees, fines imposed in criminal courts and costs imposed by courts. Presently the funds which are generated through these sources go directly into the government’s fund. Judiciary should be allowed to raise the fund raised through these resources.
Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land, is said to have three wings namely legislature, executive and judiciary. The independence of all three organs from the working of the other is the basic structure of the Constitution of India. Every organ needs labor and capital to run and to carry out its functions. Judiciary is immune from the legislature as interpreted by the Constitution. Is this true?
The funds and the expenditure to be made by the judiciary is being decided by the legislature in its budget plan of every year. The constitution has not made judiciary a completely free organ, it has given one string in the hand of the legislature. Despite of the many efforts made by the judiciary, the allocation of budget and the expenses made by the legislature over the judiciary has been all time low. The judiciary has been trailing over the legislature for the appropriate funds.
Study reveals that more than 18 States are not even spending 1% of the Budget allocated to Judiciary and the Government of the same states expect the Judiciary to dispose 3,00,00,000 cases in the click of time.
An officer associated with the survey report says, “Judiciary needs to be separately dealt with in the plans by the Planning Commission and separate allocation is necessary by the Planning Commission and the Finance Commission.”.
The report observes that, “Judicial independence cannot be interpreted only as a right to decide a matter without interference. It has become incumbent on the Central Government to make sufficient and appropriate provisions in the judiciary budget, keeping in view the central laws so as to share the burden of states.”
To this retired High Court Justice R S Sodhi says, “It is often seen that governments always brings in new legislations for better governance but they don’t realize its impact on the judiciary which is its implementing agency. The third pillar of democracy can’t be ignored in this manner.” “For the development of judicial infrastructure, the states should provide requisite resources to the judiciary without cutting/rejecting the demands made by it so that it is able to smoothly discharge its judicial functions.”
What should be done?
Without prejudice to judicial independence, the judicial allocation should be in a transparent and accountable manner, according to the requirements of each sector and all the individual courts. The internal allocation of budget should reflex caseload, importance and complexity and be clearly linked to a well-designed case and management strategy. The budget should be as such that it should be considered a mean to increase both judicial capacity and judicial accountability.
Let’s take example of country EL Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras for instance these countires have made changes in their constitution in order to maintain fixed rates of their annual funding for the judiciary. In Costa Rica the judicial branch- which includes the judicial police and prosecution- receives 6% of public funds available which is far more from India which uses just 0.4% of the Budget.
It is important that the third organ of the Constitution i.e, judiciary should have partial control or have some substantive input into the expenditure of the budget allotted to it. The judiciary should be made responsible to present its own financial needs in a professional and competent manner, documenting its requirements and identifying what it considers to be its priorities for funding.