New Delhi: Admitting that affordable and quick justice for the common man was still a "distant dream", Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Sunday stressed on the need to strengthen the lower judiciary, saying a majority of the people were still outside the protective umbrella of the law.
He said that while the Centre was willing to fund the process of strengthening subordinate judiciary, the state governments will also have to pitch in with their efforts.
"I must confess that our judicial system is under strain with more than three crore cases pending in various courts. The goal of affordable and expeditious justice for the common man is still a distant dream.
"As for the protective umbrella of the law, the majority of our people are still on the outside looking in, unable to count on the actual realisation of their legal rights," Kumar said addressing the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts.
He said for those left outside the "umbrella", repeated affirmations of commitment to the rule of law and legal rights of citizens seem "hollow."
Kumar said there was a need to make "substantial investments" in the physical and human resource infrastructure to strengthen the justice delivery system.
The strength of judges and judicial officers needed to be least doubled at various levels, the Minister said.
Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir has written to the Chief Justices of the High Courts to take up the matter with the respective state governments to increase the outlay for judiciary in their budget and to persuade them to agree to doubling the existing number of courts in the subordinate judiciary.
Kumar said consultations are on with the Planning Commission, the Finance Commission and the Finance Ministry to find additional resources for the purpose and the expenditure may be shared between the central and state governments.