The government has drawn up a Rs 400-crore plan to reduce the backlog of cases in Maharashtra’s courts. As of May 2007, 40.53 lakh cases were piled up in courts across the state.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who heads the Law and Judiciary Department, told HT from Latur: “People expect fast delivery of justice and I hope the backlog will reduce significantly.” A better judicial environment, he said, was the need of the hour.
“Money is not a problem. The allocation has been made,” said a top officer of the Law and Judiciary Department on condition of anonymity, adding that the thrust would be on improving infrastructure and staffing to speed up justice delivery.
On the anvil are more fast-track courts, which had cleared 2.15 lakh cases up to March. The state is allocating Rs 18 crore for setting up such courts; there is a provision for five new metropolitan courts in Mumbai too.
The officer said 60 fresh law graduates have been appointed as law clerks to assist Maharashtra's 53 high court judges and “we will appoint more if required.”
Also in the pipeline is an “e-display system,” by which litigants and lawyers can learn about their case status and even file cases online. The Supreme Court provides this facility and the state has earmarked Rs 1.2 crore for it.
Nine reserve teams, comprising 89 judges, will fill in when needed and their appointments will begin soon. Also, the officer said, the state has filled 213 vacancies of sessions judges and first class judicial magistrates.
Considering the growing number of divorce cases, the state is also setting up family courts in every district. Currently, only Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur have such courts, with merely 18 judges presiding over the courtrooms. The state is also planning village courts to deal with litigation in rural areas.
“We know that merely good infrastructure is not enough; we need legal experts, too,” said the officer, which is why the government is setting up a National Law School too at a cost of Rs 20 crore.