The Parliament should make fresh laws only after assessing the extra burden they are likely to impose on the courts across the country and ensuring the provision of money required for the purpose, according to the law ministry.
“Assessment must be made for the purpose of estimating the extra load any new bill or legislation may add to the burden of courts and expenditure required for the purpose,” Law Minister M Veerappa Moily has said in a letter to Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee.
Nearly three crore (30 million) cases are pending, and the backlog is on a steady rise. According to official estimates, it takes 15 years on an average to finally decide a court case in India.
Moily’s letter, based on the recommendations of the task force on Judicial Impact Assessment, says the government can anticipate the likely cost of implementing a legislation through the courts by a judicial impact assessment.
The task force, which relied for its findings on the research of T. K. Viswanathan who is an advisor in the ministry, had recommended that it should be made mandatory to provide an estimate of the burden likely to be imposed on courts by every bill passed by the parliament or state legislatures.
“A classic example of why such an assessment is required is an amendment in the Negotiable Instruments Act in 1989 that deals with the offence of cheque bouncing. It has led to 38 lakh pending cases in courts under this law,” Viswanathan said.
“Due to large number of pendency of dishonoured cheque cases, the entire credibility of the business within and outside the country is suffering a serious setback” he said.
“The purpose of the amendments in the Act for speedy disposal of dishonoured cheque cases is being lost,” he added.
Moily, in his letter, suggested that the Centre and states must provide necessary funds to meet the expenditure involved in the creation of “such fast track courts, supporting staff and other infrastructure.”
He has reminded his senior colleague that the Supreme Court in a verdict delivered in 2005, had directed the government “to make the judicial impact assessment an essential component of the financial memorandum of legislative proposals.”