Budget Allocation for Access to Justice Schemes
As the Union Budget 2022 is set to be presented on the 1st day of February, Justice Hub will be focusing on budget datasets to increase the accessibility and interpretability of union budgets. Our Budgets for Justice initiative will aim to enhance conversations and dialogues concerning data from the union budgets that revolve around the law and justice sector under the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Police, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Women and Child Development.
One dataset involving budget allocation pertains to the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms under the Ministry of Law and Justice that was set up in August 2011. The primary objective of this Mission was to increase access to justice by reducing delays and arrears in the system and by enhancing accountability through structural changes and setting performance standards. The total budget allocation for all the schemes under the Mission in the Budget for 2020-21 amounted to 215 crores. This amount was reduced in the Budget for 2021-22 to 138.83 crores indicating a fall by 60.77%!
The Mission includes, among others, four schemes: Action Research and Studies on Judicial Reforms, Designing Innovative Solutions for Holistic Access to Justice in India (DISHA) and e-Courts Phase II.
Action Research and Studies on Judicial Reforms
Under this scheme, financial assistance is being extended for undertaking action research, capacity building, publication of material and promotion of innovative programmes in the areas of Justice Delivery, Legal Research and Judicial Reforms. In the Budget for 2020-21, this scheme was allocated 35 crores which amounted to 2.17 per cent of the total budget which was 1608.46 cores. However, in the Budget for 2021-22, this amount dropped by 100% as no allocation was made out from the total budget of 2645.82 crores.
Designing Innovative Solutions for Holistic Access to Justice in India (DISHA)
The DoJ under the Ministry of Law and Justice curated this unified Pan India Scheme that aims to provide comprehensive and integrated solutions on Access to Justice with a financial outlay of Rs 250 crores for a five year period (2021-2026). In the Budget for 2020-21, this project was not allocated any amount. However, in the Budget for 2021-22, there was an allocation of 40 crores which adds up to 1.51 per cent of the total budget for the year.
e-Courts Mission Mode Project - Phase II
This project envisages enhanced ICT enablement of courts through universal computerisation, digitisation of case records and enhanced availability of e-Services. It is noteworthy that there was a reduction in budget allocation for the e-Courts Phase II project from 180 crores in the Budget for 2020-21 to 98.82 crores in the Budget for 2021-22. A fall of 66.66% in budget allocation for e-Courts is alarming especially since virtual courts have become the norm amidst the COVID 19 pandemic.
This data is an indicator that The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms has faced a major decline in budget allocation in all its schemes making it a hindrance in achieving the objective of increasing access to justice.
The Budgets for Justice initiative aims to bring in more such time-series data of the union budgets for schemes concerning the law and justice sector like budget data on courts, police, prisons, legal aid, women and child protection, thus encouraging the use of budget datasets in research and capacity building.
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