India’s Justice System versus Underutilized Budget Allocation

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

Judicial compensation is a stain on the reputation of the Justice Department, especially when adjustments are made in the economic investment and implementation portion. An affected system like this will also hamper the long-term economic growth of a nation that has already been suffering from an economic slowdown and might soon officially enter a recession phase.

In almost every budget allocation announcement that has happened since the independence of India, the Judiciary System of the country there have been plethora of operative factors that have marred the growth of the sector. For the longest time, it was underfunding and now it seems to be underutilized funding.

Though much more complex and unprecedented issues of immediate concern are knocking its door on a daily basis, enough privileges are not granted to the people who work for one of the most powerful organs of the government. Moreover, the opacity of such assigned funds has become a problem that now requires a heightened level of urgency to find solutions.

Judicial vacancies on the district level are on a constant rise and the main reason for that is the lack of courtrooms and formal accommodations for the officials. If we just restrict our focus to the lower judiciary, we find that the sanctioned strength of the judges in comparison to the number of courtrooms exceeds by more than 7700, excluding the rented premises. The proper allocation of the monetary resources in upgrading the physical infrastructure of the justice system is a significant piece that is missing from this puzzle.

With the support of a recent survey that says the district and subordinate courts account for 87.54% of the 3.53 crores backlogs of cases and the quality of most court complexes across India is appalling, it is not hard to guess why many spots in district judiciary are still vacant.

The question is not how the finance regulatory bodies are putting eggs in the judiciary’s basket but how the middlemen illegitimately eat out a large part of the annual allowance, leading to profit for pickpockets and losses in the spirit of trust and justice.

Judicial compensation is a stain on the reputation of the Justice Department, especially when adjustments are made in the economic investment and implementation portion. An affected system like this will also hamper the long-term economic growth of a nation that has already been suffering from an economic slowdown and might soon officially enter a recession phase.

The construction of minimal facilities and the average salary of a judge, lawyer or any worker serving his part in strengthening the judicial integrity of the nation have enormously suffered negative consequences because of this.

What is a Zero-sum game?

According to the Oxford University Reference book, it is a situation in which gains to one group or individual can occur only at the expense of losses to another group or individual. To have a better understanding of the phrase and its scope, we need to dive a bit deeper into different dimensions of its use. It is a commonly studied theory in subjects like Game-tactics and Economics where if the total gains of the participants are added and total losses are subtracted, the sum comes out to be zero.

For instance, if you cut a piece of cake to eat at a party and you take out a big chunk, the others get smaller shares from the cake and vice versa. Thus, without increasing the size or quantity of the cake, the equal or unequal division of the pieces roughly decides how much everyone would get to eat.

The relationship between Zero-sum game and Allocation Procedure:

The central government has pumped a significant investment of more than Rs. 7,500 crores through a centrally-sponsored scheme to build courtrooms and residential accommodations for the lower judiciary. This scheme was introduced in 1993 and has been helping the state governments in the judiciary provisions sector with a ratio share of 60:40. There was a marginal contribution until 2011, but this branch has seen a boost in the last decade. With an adequate proportion of budget allowance witnessed in recent times, the condition of transparency of transfer in such funds has become a new matter of concern.

The people standing in line to eat the biggest possible piece from the budget’s cake are lowering the actual amount of money reaching for the development of courts. When the ground force receives the amount, they find it to be much lower than the estimated value which leads to postponement or cancellation of the project.

In the previous problem, when there was an increase in spending on one sector inevitably, there was a significant decrease in the others. This strategy often created inadequate budgetary allocations for the justice administration. Political and Economic factors also played a vital role in motivating and setting the priority list for such decisions of apparent national interests. As the Finance Department handles and decides the allotments of the collective national fund by increment budgeting, it is easier to resolve this issue. The current difficulty is to chase and investigate the shadows which pass on the funds and grants to the root via their own sources.

It is a necessity that the formulation of a clarity-based budget structure takes place to increase the work quality, capacity and efforts in creating a smooth-functioning method.

Inequitable Funding of the Judicial Infrastructure:

The resource demands for the judiciary are not uncommon. Due to the central-controlled schemes imposed on the judicial body, the funds provided by the states cannot be spent, without the discretion of the government. Worsening the situation, the full monetary allowance is not reaching its destination without the corrupt elites grabbing a decent part from the consignment.

In times 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. Gram Nayalayas and other courts infrastructure budget for the term 2019-2020 was Rs. 990 crores but has now been reduced to Rs. 762 crores and courts are suffering this as an additional blow on top of the existing underutilization dilemma.

The results are highly disappointing and raise questions on the equitable assignment of monetary proceedings for the various quarters sustaining under the financial support of the ruling party. Furthermore, the lack of transparency in allocation restricts the infrastructural development of the justice department to a grave extent.

After thoroughly studying relevant graphs and statistics, the conclusion is that our justice system is not getting the support it should get to maintain its status. With huge piles of lawsuits loading every day, it will soon become impossible to hold the whole structure and there is a possibility that the wing may collapse because of not getting sufficient allowances-by rising dishonest dealings- at the right time to survive.

The scope of legal knowledge is widening and exploring new angles every other day. Amidst all this, reliable financial support and infrastructural amenities have become a necessity. The factors or people leading to underutilization of the allocated resources should be scrutinized and held accountable for.

Written by: Prabhav Tripathi

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