A shocking 41 lakh cases are pending in the magistrate courts of Maharashtra till December 2008. The state is second only to Uttar Pradesh having 51 lakh pending cases when it comes to delayed justice. What prevents the state’s judicial system from delivering justice on time?
A severe lack of infrastructure and basic facilities in lower courts had come under the Bombay High Court’s (HC) scanner, while hearing a public interest litigation filed in 2007 by Pramod Thakur, president of Panvel Taluka Bar Association. Thakur sought the implementation of an earlier HC order which had asked the government to set up a separate sessions court at Panvel.
During the hearing of the petition, issues with other courts in the state were highlighted. In July, the high court appointed a committee to review conditions of lower courts in the state.
The committee comprised of Registrar General of HC A. I. S. Cheema, principal secretary (Law) R.B. Pathle, secretary (PWD) G.M. Kandhare and chief architect B.M. Sankhe.
According to the report, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, 187 proposals regarding construction of court buildings and residential quarters, which require funds of over Rs 401.16 crore, are pending approval. The state has sanctioned only Rs. 149 crore against this.
“Fund allocation under the plan has been increased more than three times in last three years,” said M.N. Gilani, principal secretary (law & judiciary). During 2007-08, a meagre Rs 40 crore was sanctioned for court infrastructure in the state. Last year, the allocation was increased to Rs 65 crore, said the principal secretary.
The other issue is pending approvals for construction of these buildings.
Proposals for setting up a building for 12 courts in Bhiwandi was sent in August 2008, but no action has been taken so far. Gilani declined comment on these pending construction proposals.