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Remedy lies in more funds, infrastructure

Former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma said retired judges should be appointed to clear the arrears in lower courts.

delhi Updated: Jun 24, 2008 01:30 IST
Bhadra Sinha

As India faces a litigation explosion, legal experts say the solution lies in allocating more funds for the judiciary, creating infrastructure, appointing more judges, besides judicial impact assessment and an attitudinal change, commitment and time management by the judges.

"You have to allot more funds to the judiciary for creating adequate infrastructure," says E.M.S. Nachhiappan, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice. "Allotment of funds for infrastructure and creating more courts can solve the problem. Unless you have funds you cannot build infrastructure and appoint adequate number of judges to man the courts."

Former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma said retired judges should be appointed to clear the arrears in lower courts. "They can be appointed on ad-hoc basis and cases that are identified as arrears, on the basis of a cut-off date, can be assigned to them." Maintaining that nothing is impossible, Verma suggests: "Judges need to frame a schedule for themselves and dedicate more time to work in courts."

"Supreme Court has already shown the way to clear the backlog. When I retired in 1998, the pendency had come down to just 19,000. Even at that time the SC did not have the full strength. There were only 18 judges then," said Verma, recalling how he and his colleagues would hold courts even beyond working hours.

Delhi High Court Bar Association member K.C. Mittal agrees with Justice Verma. "The judicial system is in the hand of judges. They hear cases, write judgments and pronounce them. Therefore, the judicial officers are capable of court management." He says more powers should be delegated to the registrars for clearing the backlog in various high courts.

Bar Association of India Secretary Lalit Bhasin says the key-players of the judiciary have to come together to solve the problem. "Judiciary should take a strong stand and some introspection has to be there at the level of judges. However, even lawyers should become responsible," he adds.

Bhasin also suggested that the government initiate steps to prevent the litigation explosion. "Seventy per cent of the cases involve the government. If the government redresses the grievances of the people at the threshold, people will not be forced to approach the courts."