At a time when the Indian judicial system is seen as grossly lacking in infrastructure and in need for reforms to deal with the huge pendency of cases, the Union Budget for 2020-21 has made a cut in the allocation for creating infrastructure facilities for the judiciary, and in the funding earmarked for justice delivery and legal reforms.
There is a cut in the allocation for creating infrastructure facilities for the judiciary — which includes Gram Nyayalayas and other court infrastructure — from Rs 990 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 762 crore in the coming financial year.
The allocation for National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms has gone up from Rs 210 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 285.73 crore in 2020-21. However, the actual allocation in the fiscal year coming to an end was Rs 292.26 crore, which was revised downwards to Rs 210 crore.
The funds earmarked for autonomous bodies, which comprise the National Judicial Academy, the National Legal Services Authority, the Indian Law Institute and the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre, have been reduced from Rs 159 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 117 crore in the coming fiscal.
Meanwhile, under the National Mission for Safety of Women, fast track special courts have been allocated Rs 150 crore from the Nirbhaya Fund in the coming financial year. In 2019-20, these courts were provided Rs 140 crore from the fund, compared to no withdrawal from the fund for the purpose in 2018-19.
The allocation for the administration of justice, however, has increased from Rs 416.16 crore to Rs 442.87 crore. Also, the funding for tax tribunals has been enhanced from Rs 143.93 crore to Rs 172.90 crore.
The total budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Law and Justice has gone down from the revised allocation of Rs 3173.36 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 2200 crore in the new budget. This is, however, mainly on account of the expenses incurred in the holding of Lok Sabha elections in May 2019, since the Election Commission's expenditure comes under the budget for the Ministry of Law and Justice.
While the amount spent on holding elections, as per the budget, in 2019-20 was Rs 1380.06 crore, it has come down to Rs 487 crore in the 2020-21 budget.