Year End Review: 120 new judges of the high courts appointed in 2021

SGT Times Reporter

New Delhi, December 31

120 fresh Judges were appointed in the High Courts – High Court of Bombay(6), Allahabad(17), Gujarat(7), Karnataka(6), Andhra Pradesh(2), Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh(2), Kerala(12), Rajasthan(8), Punjab and Haryana(6), Calcutta(8), Orissa(4), Telangana(7),Madras(5), Chhattisgarh(3), Himachal Pradesh(1),Jharkhand(4), Gauhati (6), Delhi(2), Patna(6) and Madhya Pradesh(8).  63 Additional Judges were made permanent in High Courts – High Court of Allahabad (10), Karnataka(20), Calcutta(1), Chhattisgarh(1),  Punjab and Haryana (10), Bombay(10), Kerala(7), Uttarakhand (1) and Gauhati (3). Tenure of 02 Additional Judges tenure was extended – High Court of Bombay (1) and Gauhati (1).+

11 Chief Justices were appointed – High Courts of Allahabad (2), Andhra Pradesh(1), Calcutta(1), Guwhati (1), Gujarat(1), Karnataka(1), Madhya Pradesh(1), Madras(1), Manipur(1) and Telangana(1).

06 Chief Justice was transferred from one High Court to another.

27 Judges of High Courts were transferred from one High Court to another.

The Judge strength of Tripura High Court enhanced by 01 post and of Telangana High Court by 18 posts, thus increasing the Approved Judge Strength in the Tripura High Court to 05 Judges and Telangana High Court to 42 Judges.

Under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Department of Justice organized a number of events during the allotted week of 8th -14th November,2021 Department initiated Login Week Campaign under its Tele-Law: Reaching the Unreached, to promote increased access to pre- litigation advice for rightfully claiming their entitlements and timely redressal of their difficulties. More than 52000 beneficiaries were reached out through 4200 awareness sessions and nearly 17000 were provided with legal advice and consultation by dedicated pool of Panel Lawyers through video/teleconferencing facilities under Tele-Law. To maximize outreach Tele-Law on Wheels campaign was also rolled out where special Tele-Law branded Mobile Vans travelled in different parts of the country to spread the message of Tele-Law through playing of videos, radio jingle and distribution of Tele-Law leaflets.

· A mega event was also organized by the Department on 13thNovember 2021which was attended by more than 65,000 participants and it was presided by Hon’ble Minister of Law and Justice and Hon’ble Minister of State. On this occasion 126 best performing front-line functionaries were felicitated whose relentless efforts in the far flung areas of the country has helped Tele law reach glorious heights. A Tele-Law Mobile App has also been launched for enabling seamless connect of beneficiaries with Panel Lawyers. Various print and digital knowledge products were released which includes Tele-Law brochure, Tele-Law movies, Tele-Law Logo and Tele-Law Mascot to ensure citizen participation.Tele-Law services is available at 75,000 CSCs/Gram Panchayats in 669 Districts (including 112 Aspirational districts as per NITI Aayog data) across 36 States/UTs of the country. As on 30thNovember, 2021, there are 12,70,135 total cases registered, of which advice has been enabled to 12,50,911beneficiaries.

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) launched a Legal Services Mobile Application, which can be downloaded on android mobile phones. All the services provided by Legal Services Authorities can be availed through the said mobile application. The salient features of this application are

Any citizen may apply for seeking legal assistance, legal advice and for redressal of other grievances through Mobile App.

Any citizen may track his application submitted for legal aid & advice and other grievances.

Reminder can be sent and clarifications can be sought through Mobile App.

Any victim of crime or applicant can apply for victim compensation through the Mobile App.

Application for pre-institution mediation in commercial matters or application for mediation may be filed through this Mobile App.

National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)also organized six- week “Pan India Legal Awareness & Outreach Campaign” from 2nd October 2021, under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. As a part of this campaign, Door-to-Door visits were organized reaching out to 86cr citizens. Nearly 6 lakh Awareness Programmes were organized benefiting 26 cr citizens. More than 39,000 Legal Aid Clinics were held which assisted nearly 1.50 cr citizens. 26,460 Mobile Vans were deployed in 3.21 lakh villages which sensitized 19 cr citizens about Legal Aid services.

A Centrally Sponsored Scheme for setting up of 1023 Fast Track Special Courts (FTSCs) including 389 exclusive POCSO (e-POCSO) Courts was started by the Union of India in October, 2019 to provide speedy justice to the victims of rape and POCSO Act through expeditious disposal of related cases. The scheme was initially for one year with outlay of Rs.767.25 Cr. with Central Share amounting to Rs. 474 Cr. to be funded under Nirbhaya Fund. Central Share of Rs. 140 Cr. and Rs. 160 Cr. have been released to the States/UTs during 2019-20 and 2020-21.

A Gram Nyayalaya online portal has also been created, wherein the states/High courts upload data relating to Gram Nyayalayas, including case disposal, on monthly basis.

As per the Constitutional framework, the selection and appointment of judges in subordinate courts is the responsibility of the High Courts and State Governments concerned. The Supreme Court, through a judicial order in Malik Mazhar case, has devised a process and time frame to be followed for the filling up of vacancies in subordinate judiciary. Department of Justice has been taking up the matter of filling up of vacant positions in District & Subordinate Courts with the States and High Courts. Department of Justice has hosted a MIS web-portal on its website for reporting and monitoring of sanctioned and working strength, and vacancies of Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts on monthly basis. This enables the policy makers to get monthly judicial data.  From April, 2021 portal for reporting of “Vacancy related Data” in compliance of directions of Malik Mazhar Sultan case is also live on the Department of Justice website.

The Rule of Law Index is developed and published by World Justice Project (WJP). ROLI 2021 covers 139 countries and ranks them based on the country-specific data collected across 8 factors and 44 sub-factors. ROLI quantitatively measures rule of law-in-practice by way of survey/polling of general public and sector experts.  As per the latest report, India’s current rank in ROLI is 79 out of 139 countries assessed by the WJP. 

Department of Justice has been working with 29 stakeholder Ministry/Departments to improve India’s performance on 08 key indicators/factors and 44 sub-factors identified for the purpose.

 A coordination Committee Consisting of these Ministries/Department has been formed, which has held five meetings so far.  Additionally, inputs were also sought from legal experts and industry regarding quantification of the improvement in qualitative / perception based parameters

 Subsequently, a Project Management Unit (PMU) DoJ established   on 08.07.2021 consisting of expert agency (M/s. Market Xcel Data Matrix Private Ltd., local agency previously engaged by WJP for their polling surveys in India) as members, headed by Joint Secretary, to assist line M/Ds with filling up information in prescribed template, formulate action plan to improve India’s performance in ROLI.  The representatives of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has also been associated for advice on creation of India Index, with local data sources. The PMU expanded parameters/ sub-parameters so that information collated by line M/Ds is more granular and precise that led to addition of 10 additional line M/Ds in the 19 previously identified M/Ds.  A revised template for ROLI to add more information related to reform actions to assist in formulation of media plan was also prepared by the PMU.

The Action Plan formulated to take the process forward involves, identification of Low Hanging fruits or parameters which are critical for score improvement, collection of details to be completed from each line M/D as per the parameters allocated, additional information to formulate a “Communication Outreach Plan” for further improvement to change the perception and relevance among people, developing an exclusive ROLI webpage on DoJ website to showcase progress undertaken, completion of information of ROLI Dashboard developed by NITI Aayog and Release of Bi-annual ROLI newsletter.  The Challenges include converting the conceptual qualitative index into quantitative, with data from various ministry/Departments, identification of data sources, alternate data sources where data is not available. ROLI is a perception based Index for the countries taken as a whole, quantifying and creating an India Index with State/District-level data is challenging.

On the occasion of celebration of Constitution Day on the 26.11.2021, arrangements were made in Jaisalmer House to enable the staff and members of the Department of Justice to participate in the reading of the Preamble of the Constitution of India and joining in the oath taking ceremony ‘live’ with the Hon’ble President of India.  To popularize the importance of Constitution in the lives of common man, a Webinar on ‘Fundamental Duties’ was organized.  Vice Chancellors from National Law University, New Delhi and National Law University, Mumbai and Registrar of National Law School of India University, Bengaluru participated to enlighten the participants on the philosophical background of Fundamental Duties, Constitutional provisions on Fundamental Duties and the need of following Fundamental Duties during Covid times. 

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