Government to improve basic infrastructure in courts

Thiruvananthapuram: Law Minister A. K. Balan told the Assembly on Thursday that the government would emphasis building of basic amenities in courts.

Replying to the debate on the Kerala Court Fees and Suits Valuation (Amendment) Bill, the Minister said that the government viewed the lack of latrines and sitting space for litigants seriously.

The Bill seeks to transfer 70 per cent of the Kerala Legal Benefit Fund to the Kerala Advocates’ Welfare Fund and 30 per cent to the Advocates’ Clerks Welfare Fund after retaining ten per cent for providing infrastructure to the litigants.

However, Mr. Balan said that the amount would not be used for improving basic infrastructure in courts but for providing legal services. The original provision in the Act is that the Fund shall be applied and used for the purpose of providing an efficient legal service for the people of the State and to provide social security measures for legal provision.

The Fund is constituted from proceeds of additional court fees levied and collected under the Parent Act and fifty per cent of the court-fees levied and collected on mukhtarnama or vakalathnama. Currently, the amount is being shared equally for legal services and advocate's welfare.

Mr. Anil Akkara (Congress) noted the money came from litigants. So, it was not justified to limit funds earmarked for the benefit of litigants (legal services) to just ten per cent.

Lamenting the condition of courts, the member said that lower courts did not even have online facilities.

Mr. K. K. Ramachandran Nair (CPI-M) urged that the Legal Services Authority should be streamlined.

The House later referred the Bill to the Subject Committee.