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The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has recently proposed the establishment of a separate High Court for the State of Nagaland. This recommendation emerged from the Committee’s 141st Report, which was presented to both Houses of Parliament under the theme “Judicial Infrastructure in the North-Eastern States of India.” The report, as reported by Livelaw, highlighted the pressing need for enhanced judicial infrastructure in the region.

The Committee’s decision was influenced by interactions with the Kohima Bar Association, which advocated for a dedicated High Court for Nagaland. They pointed out that neighboring states like Tripura, Meghalaya, and Manipur, which were once under the jurisdiction of the Gauhati High Court, have since established their own High Courts. However, Nagaland, which has been under the jurisdiction of the Gauhati High Court since 1963, lacks its own High Court.

Recognizing the significance of the demand, the Committee recommended coordination between the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Home Affairs to address this issue. They stressed the vital role of the state in ensuring access to justice for all citizens and emphasized the necessity of adequate judicial infrastructure for the efficient dispensation of justice.

The Committee also expressed concerns about delays in funding for judicial infrastructure projects, attributing them to revised procedural guidelines under the Public Financial Management System (PFMS). They highlighted challenges faced by North-Eastern states in accessing funds under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), which hampers the progress of crucial projects.

The Report stated, “The Committee is happy to note that the Department of Justice has made commendable efforts to ensure that funds are released to the states on time and that all of them become PFMS compliant. The Committee, however, recommends the Department to approach the MoF to get the guidelines on release of funds under the CSS relaxed, wherever the States are facing genuine difficulties in the implementation of such guidelines.”

While acknowledging efforts by the Department of Justice to ensure timely fund disbursement, the Committee recommended relaxation of guidelines for fund release under the CSS where states face genuine difficulties. They cited issues such as remote locations, hilly terrain, and limited transportation infrastructure as additional challenges.

Notably, the funding pattern for North-Eastern and Himalayan states under the CSS is 90:10 (Center:State), but some states struggle to contribute their share, causing project delays. To address this, the Committee proposed exploring options for enhanced fund allocation and relaxation of spending norms, particularly for North-Eastern states.

During their study visits to North-Eastern states, excluding Mizoram, the Committee found that Meghalaya had made significant progress in utilizing funds for infrastructural development in the judiciary. They recommended replicating Meghalaya’s approach to maximize the benefits of the Scheme.

MTNews Desk

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