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Litigation policy under panel glare

The Planning Commission has slammed the national litigation policy of the law ministry, saying it does not address the basic issues for providing speedy justice.

delhi Updated: Nov 15, 2010 00:29 IST

The Planning Commission has slammed the national litigation policy of the law ministry, saying it does not address the basic issues for providing speedy justice.

The policy, which aims to reduce the average time for pending cases from 15 years to three years, was announced by the ministry in June.

"Reducing average pendency from 15 to three years will not suffice. It should be reduced to a few months and in any case, not more than a year," the Planning Commission pointed out.

In its comments on the note prepared by the ministry for seeking cabinet approval, the commission has said the policy does not explain how the mounting arrear of more than three crore cases across the country will be brought down.

"No specific steps have been indicated either in the ministry’s cabinet note or in the national litigation policy on how to address the requirements essential for an effective judicial system," the commission said.

"The steps contemplated to reduce the average pendency in courts are not clearly spelt out….some specific steps for reducing litigation need to be incorporated in the policy."

The commission has questioned the proposal to appoint empowered committees and nodal officers in government departments to ensure that the number of cases filed on behalf of the government could be reduced. It has suggested, instead, a conciliatory machinery similar to the one under the Industrial Disputes Act in every ministry "so that staff grievances could be settled without going to courts".

It has recommended inclusion of the Supreme Court, high courts and Bar Council of India to achieve the goals outlined in the policy. It has suggested changes, including a fixed term for government lawyers, making the law officers accountable for their performance in courts and changing the procedure for filing cases.