In furtherance to the Modi government’s efforts to create a conducive investment climate and implementation of judicial reforms on fast track...
In furtherance to the Modi government’s efforts to create a conducive investment climate and implementation of judicial reforms on fast track, the law ministry has called a high-level advisory council meeting to look into the measures to tackle the huge backlog of over 3 crore cases pending before Indian courts. The move is significant as a large pendency of cases and non-implementation of judicial reforms have been cited by the World Bank as one of the key reasons for India’s low rank on the Ease of Doing Business. Many committees and boards have been set by the governments to suggest reforms and solutions to render justice quickly. Implementation of these have, however, not been put to practice yet.
Adjournments granted by the courts on flimsy grounds is one of the main contributors towards pendency. Section 309 of Code of Criminal Procedure and Rule 1,Order XVII of Code of Civil Procedure gives power to the courts to grant it only when the judge seems it necessary or advisable. Unfortunately, the law on the issue has been ignored for long, both by the bench and the bar. Jurists have also expressed shock at the decision of judges recusing themselves from hearing a case or from remanding the matters back to high courts or tribunals years after keeping them pending.
Since the judicial system in the country is independent and unaccountable, to some extend it may give some leisure and comfort to the judges which ultimately leads to delay in deciding matters. To bring in more accountability in the judiciary and also uniformity across all courts, the law ministry is in touch with all the high courts on reworking of the appraisal system. Various high courts have now redrafted their mechanism where points are awarded depending on the number of cases disposed of.
Vacations for the courts
Legal experts feel that the causes for pendency of cases is the vacations for courts. Though a highly debatable issue, some sections of the society have questioned the regular breaks given to judges of the higher judiciary at a time when when there is such a huge pendency. They say the system of vacation is a legacy of colonial ruler when the burden on courts was not much compared to the present situation. With the increase of workload, the efficiency of the courts is hampered badly due to the breaks. Most countries don’t have any provision for vacations for the courts.
Some judges do not deliver judgments for years. If there is delay, judges may forget important aspects, feel experts. Hence, the need for provisions to make judges statutorily liable for delay in pronouncement of judgments is strongly advocated for.
The newly appointed judges and those promoted from sub-ordinate courts to the higher courts should be given intensive training to improve their skills. Merit and character should be the sole criteria for choosing the judges.
Apart from the comprehensive reforms in judicial systems, the first and the foremost thing is that judges should be the first to be brought on board. Until then, the backlog will continue and will erode trust in the judiciary.