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SC directs Centre to disburse funds to states for infrastructure for subordinate judiciary


New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Centre to disburse funds allocated for various state governments to develop infrastructure and filling up vacancies in subordinate judiciary.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna perused the report filed by senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appointed as amicus curiae in the matter.

Taking note of the report, the bench directed that the compliance reports of the Centre, state governments and Union Territories be sent to the amicus curiae -- one who assists a court by offering information and expertise on the issues pertaining to a case.

Hansaria, assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, sought directions to the Centre, as a one time measure, to consider release of Rs 15,000 crore for pending proposals in a phased manner and the matching contribution by the state governments and UTs.

He pointed out that with regard to short term directions whereby the states were required to submit to the Centre utilisation certificates of funds disbursed, only eight states and three Union Territories -- Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam, Goa and Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar island and Puducherry -- have submitted the required details.

In the note, Hansaria sought directions to the states of Uttarakhand (Rs 2.30 crore), Arunachal Pradesh (Rs 2.92 crore), Tripura (Rs 16.97 crore), Puducherry (Rs 7.95 crore), Delhi (Rs 10.92 crore) and Chandigarh (Rs  7.97 crore) to submit their pending utilization certificates for 2017-18 within a month.

Further, he sought directions to the Centre to restore the earlier fund sharing pattern of 75 per cent and 25 per cent.

"District courts were primarily engaged in administering disputes arising out of central legislation and disbursement of the amount by the central government has reduced since 2015-16 from Rs 900 crores approximately to Rs 650 crores in 2018-19," the report said.

The apex court, which is monitoring filling up of vacancies and steps taken for upgrading facilities including building sufficient courtrooms, had earlier said the funds will be disbursed after the state governments provide the Centre the utilisation certificates of funds disbursed earlier.

Hansaria had earlier informed the court that data received from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura and Sikkim showed that distribution of funds was not uniform and ad hoc amounts were given to different states from time to time.

He said that there was a need for the Centre to sanction Rs 6.09 crore as central share and Rs 4.06 crore of state share for new proposals to Tamil Nadu.

Further, it was brought to the notice of the apex court that there was a need for directions for disbursal of central funds of Kerala for 2013-14 to 2016-17 and Tripura's share for 2015-16 to 2018-19.

The court was informed that Sikkim has been provided with entire amount spent on centrally sponsored scheme.

It was also told that disbursement of funds by the Centre has reduced since 2015-16 from Rs 900 crore approximately to about Rs 600 crore annually.

The apex court on its own had taken note of over 5,000 vacancies for judicial officers across the country and had directed all the 24 high courts and 36 states and UTs to apprise it of remedial measures.

It is also monitoring the steps taken for developing the infrastructure in subordinate judiciary.

The top court had appointed senior advocates Shyam Divan, K V Vishwanathan, Vijay Hansaria and lawyer Gaurav Agrawal as amicus curiae and asked them to assist it in dealing with the case.

Divan would deal with the vacancies and the processes needed to fill them up in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and the Northeast states.

While Vishwanathan would assist the top court in dealing with the vacancies in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala, Hansaria would deal with those in Madhya Pradesh, Chennai, Odisha, Patna and Punjab and Haryana.

 Agrawal would render assistance to the top court in dealing with the issue of vacancies in states of Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarakhand.

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