Why being a litigant in city courts is easier than in other parts of country
Study Finds Delhi To Be The Only State To Have Court Complexes Meeting SC Standards
New Delhi: Litigation is an onerous pursuit, not only for the length it takes to conclude cases, but also because the time spent at the courts can be trying for people. The districts courts in Delhi, in this respect, offer a pleasant difference. A study conducted by non-profit Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy said the city courts are easily accessible, offer a waiting area for the public and are well-equipped to handle wheelchair-bound people.
In its national report published in August, Vidhi Centre declared Delhi the only state to have court complexes meeting the standards of the National Court Management Systems (NCMS). In 2012, the Supreme Court had accepted the NCMS committee’s indicators for rating the performance of Indian courts.
Alarge part of the improvement in court infrastructure was spurred by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal prioritising the expansion of the judicial amenities to ensure speedy justice for Delhi residents. The CM instructed the law department in the first year of the government itself that availability of funding should never come in the way of building court infrastructure.
A visit to the newly constructed Rouse Avenue court complex in Central district underscores the hi-tech aspect of the infrastructure with its Braille signage outside courtrooms and tactile paths on every floor.
Vidhi Centre’s August report said, “The survey shows that only one state (Delhi) and one Union territory (Chandigarh) have court complexes that meet NCMS standards. Overall, Delhi (90%), Kerala (84%), Meg
Score halaya (75%), Himachal Pradesh (70%) and Haryana (70%) are the best performing states across all parameters.”
The survey of 110 litigants conducted by the organisation between May and August last year showed that most court complexes in Delhi were easily navigable and demonstrated well-equipped security and other amenities. The study also highlighted the convenience of a bank branch at all the courts.
The report, however, pointed out the need for proper seating and cleanliness at courts and said “56% of the litigants felt the waiting areas needed to improve access for persons with disabilities”. Toilets too were a concern mostly because of the number of people using them daily. Though the washrooms were found functional, the respondents noted lack of liquid soap, tissue paper and working flushes.
Signage helped them in the complexes, but the respondents admitted that they depended on their lawyers for navigation. But when it came to the services such as notaries, canteens, ATMs and photocopying, 10 of the 11 court complexes ticked all the boxes. Only one did not have fire extinguishers, while most had a fully-functioning baggage scan facility.
The survey involved nine parameters, among them accessibility, hygiene, security and online presence, to assess the performance. While Tis Hazari court complex in the west fared the worst scoring 77%, the south, southeast (Saket), northeast and east (Karkardooma) districts scored a high 96%. New Delhi: The civil defence staff who are meant to assist during anti-encroachment and other enforcement drives are being utilised as private staff, drivers and bodyguards in South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Miffed at this misuse, the standing committee of the corporation has asked all of its four administrative zones to submit detailed reports on the number, postings and salaries of all such personnel deployed by the civic body.
Standing committee chairperson Bhupender Gupta on Saturday said the four zones each have 20-25 civil defence members. “Since policemen are not always available during these drives, the civil defence staff and Home Guards have been appointed to help. Due to their khaki uniform, public maintains calm and mischief is avoided. But we are repeatedly observing that they are being used for other purposes,” Gupta said.
Since the personnel are being utilised by the corporation, their salaries too are paid from its coffers, an SDMC official said.
Gupta explained that these guards were sought from Delhi government’s directorate of Home Guards around three years ago. Considering they have been employed for 36 months, the official estimate of salaries paid to them is Rs 4-5 crore, he said.
“At the next standing committee meeting, the four deputy commissioners should submit individual reports about the total number and use of the civil defence staff. We also want the records of the salaries paid so far,” Gupta said.
He argued that if certain officers considered that they had any security issues, they should contact Delhi Police for cover. “How can civil defence staff be used for security? They should be deployed only for the purpose for which they have been called,” the chairperson said.
The civil defence staff come under the directorate of Home Guards and are used for diverse functions. Delhi government also engages them as security marshals in DTC buses. According to reports, there are roughly 3,000 marshals — comprising Home Guard personnel, civil defence volunteers and ex-servicemen — currently engaged with Delhi Transport Corporation for its fleet of 3,781 buses. These marshals are deployed in the evening rush hour and late night trips.