In a move aimed at speeding up the disposal of criminal cases pending for over a decade, the Supreme Court has constituted a special bench to hear such matters.
Formed at the instance of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, the bench of justice SJ Mukopadhyaya and justice Ranjana Prakash Desai held their first sitting on Tuesday. Nineteen criminal appeals filed by convicts lodged in jails and even those on bail were heard by the court. The oldest matter heard was filed in 2003. The bench gave its decision in 14 cases. The CJI has so far marked 187 cases to the bench for their speedy disposal.
According to the latest figures released by the court registry, over 66,000 matters are pending in the top court. Of them 12,000 are criminal appeals.
The pendency includes the 5,826 cases registered in December 2013. The SC was able to dispose of just 4,295 cases.
The CJI constituted the bench on December 21, 2013, after the success of National Lok Adalat held in November last. Organised by the National Legal Services Authority, the court had disposed of over 30 lakh cases.
This is the second time a special bench has been constituted to hear criminal appeals. In the aftermath of the December 16 gangrape, retired chief justice Altamas Kabir too had set up a similar bench to try cases of crimes against women.
The bench of justice AK Patnaik and justice Gyan Sudha Misra began its hearing on January 14, 2013, and a total of 526 cases relating to rape, dowry and other sexual offences from 2002 were listed before it.