It is meant to alert legislators on the impact of making new laws. A government-appointed panel on Wednesday recommended mandatory judicial impact assessment of every bill to have a fair estimate of extra caseload, judges/staff, infrastructure and financial needs that a new law is likely to generate.
An amendment to section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act making dishonour of cheques a criminal offence, for instance, increased litigation by 25 lakh cases.
Now, a ‘Task Force on Judicial Impact Assessment in India’ has suggested that such assessments be made for all bills introduced in Parliament or assemblies. If implemented, it will be for the first time that India follows this system that is in vogue in USA.
After submitting the report to Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, Task Force Chairman Justice M. Jagannadaha Rao said despite Indian courts disposing of 1.5 crore cases annually, there were 2.5 crore cases still pending in lower courts. “The backlog does not get wiped out because fresh cases… get filed in courts every year. There is no point in blaming the judiciary for case arrears, the blame must also lie with other departments that help (create) it,” he said.
The panel recommended that the Centre must set up additional courts for implementation of central laws made in respect of subjects in the Union List.
The expenditure on fresh cases likely to be added to the Supreme Court and high courts by new laws must be reflected in the Financial Memoranda attached to the Central/State Bills. The expenditure on fresh cases likely to be added to the subordinate courts must be met by the respective Central or State Ministry that sponsors the Bill.
The panel proposed setting up of a judicial impact office in Delhi and similar offices in states to carry out the assessment by involving social scientists, legal experts and NGOs.