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Set up mechanism to speed up cases: CJI to high courts

The letter, written by CJI Dipak Misra , suggests a framework be put in place whereby each high court “every month takes stock of cases filed and disposed” there as well as in subordinate courts.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2018 23:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CJI,Chief Justice of India,High courts
CJI Dipak Misra has written to all high court chief justices advising them to set up a new disposal review mechanism to clear cases on priority. (PTI Photo)

CJI Dipak Misra has written to all high court chief justices advising them to set up a new disposal review mechanism to clear cases on priority and cut the heavy backlog that blights India’s justice-delivery system.

The letter, written recently, suggests a framework be put in place whereby each high court “every month takes stock of cases filed and disposed” there as well as in subordinate courts.

More than 27 million cases are pending in various lower courts through the country, statistics available on the National Judicial Data grid website show, of which 8.2 million are of civil nature and 18.9 million criminal.

While the disposal of old cases and those in prioritised categories must be accelerated, the Chief Justice of India has said, “at the same time efforts must be made to ensure that at least the overall disposal matches with the overall institution (filing) of cases.”

With over 6.5 million cases, Uttar Pradesh has the highest rate of pendency among states, followed by Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar, where the rate is considerably high as well. Over 3.7 million cases are pending in 24 high courts across the country, of which over a million date back more than 10 years.

Taking note of the magnitude of the problem, the CJI in his letters says that the new mechanism must be put in place in addition to the arrears committees set up earlier to formulate steps to reduce pendency at high and district courts.

“Continuing formative assessment is the key to strengthen and reinforce the justice delivery system. It is essential to align a process-oriented approach with a result-oriented approach in an effort to build core processes into strength and achieve the desired goal,” the letter reads.

The arrears committee has in the past been tasked with “monitoring and preparing an action plan with cut-off dates for disposal of 10 and 5-year-old cases.

Legal experts believe the problem could worsen in the days to come.

“The move by the Chief Justice of India is a welcome one. The CJI should also press for more appointments in the judiciary commensurate with the challenge posed by the sheer number of pending matters. The CJI should go for large-scale restructuring too,” says advocate Santosh Paul, who has written a book on appointment of judges and pendency.

Bar Council of India chairman Manan Mishra lauded the initiative, saying, “We support the CJI’s move and this system of continuous monitoring would go a long way in not just reducing the pendency but also keeping track of the functioning of the judiciary as a whole.”

Besides the problem of pendency, the CJI in another letter to the high courts has highlighted the problem of vacancies in the lower judiciary and directed the high courts to make immediate appointments where vacancies are more than 15%. “Take immediate steps to ensure filling up of vacancies and set up an online portal for continuous monitoring of the vacancies,” reads the letter.

First Published: Jun 25, 2018 23:12 IST