Upgrading the judicial system and bringing in reforms to ensure quick disposal of pending cases is a priority for the government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the concluding function of the 150-year celebrations of the Bombay high court held at NCPA on Saturday.
Chief justice of India SH Kapadia, Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan, governor of Goa BV Wanchoo, and Maharashtra and Goa chief ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Manohar Parrikar were few of the dignitaries present.
"The judicial institutions of our country face the unenviable task of delivering timely justice to millions of people at an affordable cost… We stand committed to working with the judiciary to bring improvements in the justice delivery system," Singh said.
Enumerating the steps taken by the government, the PM said a national mission for justice delivery was launched in last year with the objective of increasing access to justice by reducing delays and arrears, and increasing accountability.
He said that apart from a constitutional amendment bill for increasing the retirement age of the judges of high courts being considered by Parliament, a comprehensive proposal to set up an all-India judicial service has been mooted, and a group under the chairman of the law commission has been formed to suggest improvements in court procedure and processes.
"An inter-ministerial group is examining amendments that can be made in the Negotiable Instruments Act to look at the increasing litigations arising out of cases of bounced cheques," Singh added. Bouncing of cheques has been an issue of concern for the judiciary as it is a key reason for high pendency.
"The Bombay high court and subordinate courts have contributed to reducing their pendencies by five lakh cases annually," Singh said, referring to the decline of pendencies in the courts throughout the country over July to December last year.
Appreciating the achievements of the Bombay high court, Singh said it is remarkable that the first chief justice, attorney general and solicitor general of independent India were from the Bombay high court and these three positions continue to be occupied by those from this Bar even today.
He said that in the past 65 years, 22 judges from the Bombay high court have been elevated to the Supreme Court, of which eight became the CJI, including one who had the longest serving tenure.