Among the many ills plaguing the Indian judiciary, the poor infrastructure in courts is an important and pressing one that needs to be fixed urgently. Improving infrastructure in courts is a key component of the larger reforms to ensure speedy and efficient delivery of justice. The pathetic state of affairs of judicial infrastructure in the country can be gauged from the fact that nearly half of the court complexes have no purified drinking water facility; only 5% of court complexes have basic medical facilities; only 32% of courtrooms have separate record rooms; only 51% of court complexes have a library; only 27% of courtrooms have computer placed on the Judge’s dais with video-conferencing facility and over 26% of court complexes do not have separate toilets for women. Many courts still operate from dilapidated structures as improving judicial infrastructure has never been on the priority list of the successive Central governments since independence. The Chief Justice of India N V Ramana has rightly pointed out that since the British left the country, the maintenance of judicial infrastructure was being carried out in an ad-hoc and unplanned manner. The Centre must ponder over the issues flagged by the CJI and implement the proposal made by him to establish the National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India (NJIAI), with statutory backing, to help build modern and self-sufficient courts in India. Such a body will help bring uniformity and standardisation in judicial infrastructure. The judicial infrastructure is a necessary component of justice delivery and its inadequacy adversely affects not just litigants and advocates, but also the judges and the quality of judicial work.
The issues of pendency, delays and backlogs can be tackled to a large extent by strengthening the physical, digital, and human infrastructure of the courts. Massive pendency of cases in courts across India has not only hampered the administration of justice over decades but also become a source of friction between judiciary and executive in the past. According to international research published in 2018, failure to deliver timely justice cost the country as much as 9% of the annual GDP. The implementation of a Central government scheme for the development of infrastructure facilities for the judiciary, in operation since 1993-94, has been marred by poor coordination among different departments. While all other sectors have adopted modern communication technologies to improve efficiency and speed up delivery processes, the judiciary has been excruciatingly slow in embracing change. Apart from improving physical infrastructure, there is a need to expand digital connectivity for speedy and hassle-free delivery of justice. The application of information technology must become one of the key elements of the judicial reforms in a country which has over three crore pending cases at various levels.