The Niti Aayog has suggested introduction of a ‘judicial performance index’ to check delay in trial and address the issue of pendency of cases. Asserting that corruption cases get held up in the judicial system inordinately, the policy think-tank has also recommended putting a time-limit for processing them. In its draft three-year action agenda (for 2017-18 to 2019-20), the Aayog has suggested several judicial reforms, including increasing the use of information and communication technology and streamlining judicial appointments.
The draft was circulated among the Niti Aayog’s Governing Council members (consisting of chief ministers of all states and others) on April 23. The report says it takes over “eight years to finalise a major vigilance case from the date of occurrence of irregularity” and underlined the need to speed up decision- making process in corruption cases. “The judicial system is another avenue where corruption cases get held up. Delays in obtaining justice encourage the corrupt and discourage those who are honest.
“Beyond the larger reforms in the justice system to reduce pendency, special courts set up to try corruption cases should be strengthened and time limits to process corruption cases should be introduced,” the draft report said. The report has also suggested introduction of a ‘judicial performance index’. “Such an index could be established to help high courts and high court chief justices keep a track of performance and process improvement at the district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay,” the draft said.
This would require fixing non-mandatory timeframes for different types of cases as broad guidelines to benchmark when a case has been delayed, it said. “The index can also include certain progress on process steps that have already been approved by high courts, like burden of day-to-day activity being removed from judges and given to administrative officials.
“This annual evaluation should give judges in high courts and district courts a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix. Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the high courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those states,” it said.
The Niti Aayog report has also suggested shifting some workload out of the regular court system and introduction of an administrative cadre in the judicial system.