The Ministry of Law and Justice is the oldest limb of the Government of India, dating back to 1833. It has three departments under it.
- Legislative Department : It drafts all principal legislation for the central government.
- Department of Legal Affairs : It advises various ministries on legal matters.
- Department of Justice : It is responsible for administrative functions in relation to courts, infrastructure development in Subordinate Judiciary, promotion of access to justice and legal aid to poor. It also plays a role from the government side in selection and appointment of judges in High Courts and the Supreme Court.
Associated Organisations, and Initiatives:
Law Commission of India is an executive advisory body for legal reform. Its functions include examination of laws, review and repeal of obsolete laws.
Bar Council of India is a statutory regulatory body, under Advocates Act 1961. It regulates legal practice and legal education, prescribes standards of conduct and exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over the Indian bar. It sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to universities.
The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Ordinance 2019 seeks to establish NDIAC as an independent institution for better management and promotion of arbitration, mediation and conciliation mechanisms in India.
National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms
National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms was started in 2013 with the twin objectives of increasing access to justice by reducing delays and arrears in the system and enhancing accountability through structural changes in the litigation procedure, by taking measures such as rationalisation of litigation procedure, computerisation of proceedings, training and improvement of manpower in judiciary, installing cctv cameras in subordinate courts, etc.
Legal Services Authorities – a judiciary initiative for improving access to justice
Legal Services Authorities are statutory bodies constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987. They work under the guidance of the Judiciary, and are not under the Ministry of Law and Justice.
Their aim is to provide free legal services for weaker sections of the society. For this, they periodically organise Lok Adalats for out-of-court settlement of the cases in a cheap, fair and speedy manner.
At the national level, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is the prime organisation of this initiative. NALSA is chaired by the Chief Justice of India. NALSA also guides and assists the state level organisations, or the State Legal Services Authorities, which are headed by the Chief Justice of High Court of the respective state. At district level, District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) is headed by the district judge.
More related information:
PC Jain Commission (1998) and Ramanujam Committee (2014), constituted to identify obsolete laws, recommended repeal of over 1700 obsolete central laws, most of which were then repealed.
Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is a quasi-judicial organisation that deals with appeals under the Direct Taxes Acts. It functions under the Ministry of Law and Justice.