New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday directed the Centre to disburse funds allocated for various state governments to develop infrastructure in subordinate judiciary within two weeks.
The apex court, which is monitoring filling up of vacancies and steps taken for upgrading facilities including building sufficient courtrooms, said the funds will be disbursed after the state governments provide the Centre utilisation certificates of funds disbursed earlier.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna directed the state governments to submit to the Centre the required documents within four weeks.
The apex court passed the directions after accepting the note of senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who sought directions on the basis of short term measures suggested by him while assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter.
"We are of the view that short-term measures suggested by the amicus curiae should be forthwith implemented," the top court said, adding that the long-term measures suggested by the amicus curiae would require further consideration of this Court after the central government's response.
It directed that all copies of compliance reports submitted by the Centre, state governments and Union Territories be sent to Hansaria.
The court has put up the matter for further hearing on April 23.
Hansaria assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, sought directions to the Centre for release of funds within two months of furnishing pending utilisation certificates by the state government and submit compliance report.
They said 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.
In the note, they said 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.
"Share of central funding has also been reduced from 75 percent to 60 percent (except for eight North-Eastern and three hill states). It is submitted that the Central Government may be directed to increase the amount of funding and share of central funding on infrastructure of district judiciary as they are primarily engaged in administering disputes arising out of central legislation," the note said.
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 Madhya Pradesh, Madras, 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.