The Delhi High Court on Wednesday slammed the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government for not providing funds to meet the basic requirements of the lower courts, which, it said, generate huge revenues through collection of fines, court fees and traffic challans.
“What do you want? You want to kill the goose that lays golden eggs,” a division bench of the high court comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad asked the Delhi government.
The question came in after the bench was informed that in the year 2018-19, the district courts had collected fines to the tune of Rs 80 crore, which was remitted to the Delhi government, and court fees worth Rs 96 crore was sold in the said year.
“In the year 2019-20, fines worth Rs 89 crore was collected by the district courts and court fees worth Rs 102 crore was sold. Between 01.07.2019 and 12.10.2020, traffic fines to the tune of Rs 115 crore have been collected by the virtual traffic courts and deposited with the Delhi government,” officer on special duty (OSD), Reetesh Singh, said while appearing before the bench.
Following these submissions, the bench said, “Despite the aforesaid revenues generated by the district courts over the past three years, they are being starved of finances for the basic facilities required to run the courts efficiently, which cannot be countenance. Any obstruction in the discharge of constitutional function of the courts must be viewed seriously.”
In order to meet the requirements of the 119 cars pending at the end of the Delhi government, the bench directed it to start with releasing funds for purchasing 20 per cent of the required pool cars, which will come to 23 cars, within three months from Wednesday.
The bench further noted that as 150 judicial officers are due to be posted in the next couple of months and their courts cannot be made functional without adequate support staff, it directed the Delhi High Court to release the required sum of Rs 2,52,10,178 from its budget to the district courts without any delay.
However, the same was done with a condition that the said amount shall be returned to the Delhi High Court immediately using funds being made available by the Delhi government to the district courts, an exercise to be completed on or before December 31, 2020.
The bench said, “Thank god we have our own funds. You (Delhi government) are making the subordinate judiciary run from pillar to post.”
The court was hearing a petition seeking to enlarge the functioning of the courts, particularly family courts, in the prevalent times.
The petition sought direction to all the family courts to allow recording of evidence via video conferencing during the restricted functioning of the courts owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, either by the presiding judge of the family court or by a commission.