Delhi & Chandigarh District Courts Fulfil 2012 Guidelines of NCMS
Most of the district courts elsewhere are not accessible for persons with disabilities
Of all the states and union territories in India, only the district courts in Delhi and Chandigarh fulfill the infrastructure guidelines set by the National Court Management Systems (NCMS) Committee in 2012, according to a new report by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a think-tank.
Most of the district courts elsewhere are not accessible for persons with disabilities, and 60% of them do not have a fully functional washroom, the reports said.
Each district court was assessed based on nine parameters--
- getting there
- waiting areas
- barrier-free access
- case display
- court website.
While Chandigarh (100%) and Delhi (90%) aced the survey, Bihar (26%), Manipur (29%) and Nagaland (29%) were the worst performers.
Of 29 states and seven union territories, only five states and four union territories were able to get an overall score of more than 60 (the number of states has decreased to 28 and union territories increased to nine after the August 6, 2019, changes to Article 370; Jammu and Kashmir is no longer a state, but a union territory, and Ladakh is now a union territory too).
The 2012 NCMS guidelines had set out a detailed plan for court infrastructure with an aim to tackle the high number of pending cases. “One of the most important factors contributing to the mounting arrears is the lack of an adequate number of judges and the requisite infrastructure,” the introduction to the guidelines said.
At 258,965 pending cases, district and other subordinate courts make up for 64.37% of the total pending cases in the country, minister of law and justice told Lok Sabha on July 19, 2019.
The lower judiciary is the first point of contact for most litigants, and the study examined access from litigants’ perspective by assessing 665 district courts across India and interviewing 6,650 litigants.
Access For Persons With Disabilities
To ascertain whether the courts are accessible for senior citizens and for people with disabilities, the survey examined three basic features--ramps and elevators, presence of visual aids, and washrooms for persons with disabilities. Only 2% of the courts had visual aids, 11% had designated washrooms and 27% had ramps and elevators.
Most District Courts Not Accessible For Persons With Disabilities
Only the district court in Chandigarh passed the test for all these three features. None of the other states could manage a 50% score. Of a total of 100 points, the union territories of Lakshadweep and Delhi scored 67 and 55, respectively.
As many as 585 of the 665 courts (88%) had a washroom but only 40% had fully functional ones. A fully functional washroom was defined as one that has running water, a provision for regular cleaning and is gender-segregated. None of the washrooms in Goa’s courts had running water or were regularly cleaned, giving it the lowest rank for hygiene.
Further, 15% of the courts did not have a separate washroom for women. More than half of the district courts in Andhra Pradesh (69%), Odisha (60%) and Assam (59%) did not have separate washrooms for women.
When asked how the quality of washrooms could be improved, litigants emphasised the need for running water and flush facility.
Some 89% of the district courts in India do not have a baggage scanning facility; 71% do have a fire extinguisher and 52% do not have emergency exit signs.
89% Of District Courts Without Baggage Scanning Facility
Almost half (46%) of the district courts did not have a waiting room. Rajasthan (14%) and Bihar (16%) had the least percentage of courts with a waiting room. On the other hand, all district court complexes in Delhi, Gujarat, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya had waiting rooms.
The major improvements that the litigants said the waiting rooms needed were: more seating (69%), better ventilation (37%) and higher levels of cleanliness (26%).
Typists (100%), photocopiers (98%), stamp vendors (97%) and public notaries (96%) were available in most of the courts but first-aid care was available in only 59% of the courts.
Getting There And Navigation
Most of the courts assessed were accessible through public transport (80%) and had parking space (81%). Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Kerala ranked the highest and Gujarat, Sikkim and Tripura ranked the lowest in terms of accessibility to district courts.
Only 20% of the courts had guide maps and 45% had help desks. Most of the litigants (59%) asked lawyers for directions within the court premises.
This was first published on IndiaSpend and has been republished with permission.
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