CJI seeks steps to resolve poor digital connectivity in rural, remote areas

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New Delhi, Jun 26 (PTI) Chief Justice of India N V Ramana has written to Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking steps to resolve poor digital connectivity in rural, tribal and hilly areas, saying this is 'adversely impacting the pace of justice delivery'.

In his letter to Prasad, who is also the minister for law and communications, Justice Ramana also referred to the 'digital divide' and said 'a whole generation of lawyers is being pushed out of the system' due to technological inequality.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) informed about the letter, written on June 8, while speaking on Saturday at the virtual release of a book 'Anomalies in Law and Justice' authored by former Supreme Court Judge Justice R V Raveendran.

During the course of a panel discussion that followed the book launch, Justice Ramana said that the issue of connectivity figured prominently at a two-day conference of chief justices of high courts that he had held recently.

'Poor connectivity in rural, tribal, remote and hilly areas is adversely impacting the pace of justice delivery and is also depriving thousands of young lawyers across the country of their livelihood. A whole generation of lawyers is being pushed out of the system due to digital divide,' the CJI said.

Justice Ramana said he recently wrote to the law, communications and IT minister, highlighting these issues, and requested him to initiate steps on priority to bridge the digital divide and evolve a mechanism to help advocates who have lost their livelihood due to the Covid pandemic and who are in dire need of financial assistance.

The letter stated that there is 'a need to strengthen the network and connectivity beyond major urban centres, particularly in rural and tribal areas, as the digital divide is adversely impacting the functioning of the courts in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic'.

'The judicial infrastructure needs to be augmented with latest information and communication technology tools to facilitate 'access to justice' during and post pandemic time. Further, the judicial infrastructure needs to be streamlined and revamped to deal with the challenges of pendency,' the CJI said.

Justice Ramana said that 'a blue print of the proposal to set up the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) is in the final stages of preparation and will be shared with the Union government shortly'.

'I am of the firm belief that concerted efforts need to be put in, in order to materialise this concept, in view of the challenges put forth by the pandemic,' the CJI said.

He also highlighted the need to declare legal professionals and associated functionaries as frontline workers and the need to vaccinate them all against Covid on priority.

There is a need to 'augment the provisioning of vaccines to immunise all the functionaries associated with the courts and their families across the country to facilitate full-scale functioning', the letter said.

It also sought to recognise 'all the functionaries of the courts, including the advocates, as frontline workers for the purpose of providing pandemic-related relief', and to provide financial support to advocates, especially junior advocates, who are struggling to make both ends meet due to loss of work for more than a year since the onset of pandemic. PTI UK SJK ANB ANB

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