New Delhi: Terming as "grossly inadequate" the current judge to population ratio, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday assured Chief Ministers of more central funds for creation of infrastructure for subordinate judiciary to address the issue of pendency of over three crore cases.
    
"The judge to population ratio at the current level of 15.5 judges per million is indeed grossly inadequate. We need to alter this equation so as to address the problems of pendency and delays in disposal of cases," he said.
    
Singh was speaking at a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices presided over by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir. The Prime Minister said he fully agreed with Kabir that there was a need to significantly enhance the number of judges and wanted the Chief Ministers to take initiative in this regard.
    
He noted that over three crore cases were pending in various courts across the country of which 26 per cent were more than five years old. "On behalf of the Central Government, I would like to assure this august gathering that we would increase appropriately the quantum of funding for the scheme under which we provide support to the State governments for creation of infrastructure for subordinate judiciary," Singh said.
    
He said the Centre would engage with the 14th Finance Commission for devolution of funds to the State governments specifically for the judicial sector and also request it to earmark funds for establishing fast-track courts for speedy trials not only in cases of heinous crimes but also in offences against the elderly, women and children.

Noting that the national outrage after the Delhi gang-rape incident had compelled an urgent introspection about laws and justice delivery system, Singh said, "We must not allow ourselves to be overcome by a sense of despair at some of the demonstrated inadequacies of our legal system."
    
He said the government had moved with expedition to respond to the felt sensitivities of the people and brought about significant amendments in the criminal law to effectively deal with heinous offences against women.
    
"A great deal more needs to be done as far as offences against women are concerned. I am happy that one of the issues on the agenda of your conference is sensitization of the Judiciary on gender issues," Singh said.
    
The Prime Minister said the Centre, the state governments, and the high courts were working in close coordination for upgradation of the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in the Supreme Court, the High Courts as well as provisioning for ICT in the 14,249 district and subordinate courts.

(Agencies)

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