President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Saturday called for a fresh look at figures that put the number of case backlog in courts at a staggering three crore.
Patil's call for the review of the figures on case arrears came in response to Chief Justice SH Kapadia's contention that more than 50 per cent of the cases counted as arrears were in fact filed only a year back.
He said that such cases could be described as pending cases but not as arrears. He said that distinction had to be made between arrears and pending cases.
"As the chief justice of India has talked about the difference between arrears and pendency in cases, I think we will have to review these figures," the president said in her inaugural address at a two-day all India seminar on judicial reforms organized by the Confederation of Indian Bars.
She said that legal delays rendered the common man's bid to seek justice a frustrating experience.
Patil during the course of her speech dealt with many issues including judicial accountability, archaic laws and the need to scrap or modify them. "There cannot be better governance without better laws and there cannot be better laws if antiquated ones remain," the president said.
As our democracy is maturing, public scrutiny of all state institutions including the judiciary has begun witnessing marked increase, the president said.
"Judicial accountability and judicial independence should coexist harmoniously. There can be informed discussion on ways and means of ensuring judicial accountability," she said.
The president said that the congestion of courts and backlog of cases has been compounded by shortage of judicial manpower and low judge to population ratio.
She said that there was a need to augment the strength of the judiciary without compromising on quality. "Advance action needs to be taken to fill up existing and prospective vacancies," she said.
Earlier speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice Kapadia called for legislative, judicial and the bar reforms. He said that judicial reforms alone would not work.
The chief justice said: "You can't have a chariot running on one wheel."
The chief justice lamented that ever since the power that mandated consultation with the chief justices of the high courts before the appointment public prosecutors was withdrawn, the quality of government pleaders has gone down.