Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan has expressed concern over the rising number of criminal cases in the country even as fewer people were coming forward to litigate civil issues.
“The criminal cases have witnesses a 3 per cent rise while there has been a 6 per cent decrease in civil cases…This is a disturbing trend,” the CJI said on Thursday at a function to mark the beginning of the golden jubilee celebrations of the Bar Association of India.
Justice Balakrishnan said 87 per cent of the total cases pending in India were in subordinate courts and 71 per cent of these were criminal cases.
He said that in states with higher literacy rates, the number of civil cases was 29 per 1,000 people while in states with poor literacy rates it was as low as 4.6 per 1,000 people.
Terming the filing of civil cases as “very low”, the CJI wondered why people were not coming forward to litigate civil issues despite having multiple problems.
He requested the bar to ponder over this issue and help genuine and needy litigants get justice at an affordable cost.
Civil cases have to be filed by the individual concerned while in criminal cases it is the state which prosecutes the offender as crime is considered an act against the state and not just against the individual victim of the crime.
The CJI lamented that in recent years there have been some instances of collusion between advocates appearing for the prosecution and the defence in criminal cases.
Raising the issue of exceptionally high fees charged by lawyers, the CJI asked the bar leaders to improve ethical standards and help poor youngsters during their initial years in the legal profession.
Justice Balakrishnan lamented that statutory bodies like the Bar Council of India and other state bar councils often take too much time in deciding complaints of professional misconduct against advocates.
He advised the Bar Association of India (BAI) to take the lead in setting up a body comprising judges, advocates, academicians and others completely dedicated to research in the field of law. Later, BAI secretary Lalit Bhasin said the association had already initiated the process for establishing such a body.