Amidst mounting criticism of the Judiciary over backlog of cases, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Sunday sought to put the blame on the government for poor judge-population ratio, making laws without judicial impact assessment and not setting up courts to adjudicate cases arising out of central laws.
“The main cause for judicial delay lies not so much with the judiciary as with the executive and administrative wing of the Government,” Justice Balakrishnan told a Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices here.
The CJI said, “the courts do not possess a magic wind which they can wave to wipe out the huge pendency of cases… nor can they afford to ignore the instances of injustices and illegalities only because of the huge arrears of the cases…”
Singh, who spoke after the CJI, said, “unless the rate of disposal improves, the backlog would keep mounting.” He also suggested that the courts could consider having more than one shifts to clear the backlog.
But the CJI defended the courts by giving latest figures about disposal of cases and said institution of cases exceeded their disposal mainly due to population explosion and legal awareness.
He said the average disposal per judge in the High Courts and Subordinate Courts was 2374 and 1346 cases respectively last year. India required 1539 more judges in High Courts and 18479 Judges in Subordinate Courts to clear the backlog in one year. The requirement would come down to 770 and 9239 judges in High Courts and Subordinate Courts respectively, if the arrears alone had to be cleared in two years, he said. There are about 2.85 crore cases pending across India.
Balakrishnan said the Central laws contributed to over 50 to 60 per cent of the litigation in trial courts and wondered why the Centre did not exercise its power under Article 247 to establish additional courts for better administration of laws made by Parliament.
“The Central Government must estimate and pay for the recurring and non-recurring expenditure of the State Courts to the extent the courts spend time to adjudicate disputes arising out of central statutes,” he said.
The CJI suggested that like in the U.S., there should be judicial impact assessment of laws and new laws should be accompanied by a budgetary estimate and necessary financial allocation should be made in the Bill itself to meet the expenditure likely to be incurred in setting up additional courts.
Citing the 120th Report of the Law Commission, he said there should be 50 judges per 10 lakh population instead of 10.5 judges as inadequate judge strength was a major cause of delay in disposal of cases.
The CJI pointed out that as on March 31 this year, out of the sanctioned strength of 725 posts of judges in the High Courts 128 posts were vacant and similarly 2710 posts of lower court judges out of the total 14477 were vacant.