Steps to bring down the pendency of court cases by Dec 2011

Steps to bring down the pendency of court cases by Dec 2011

(L-R) Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan, Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily and Attorney General of India Goolam E Vahanvati

Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, unveiling a Vision Statement to tackle judicial pendencies, also proposed to shorten the Memorandum of Procedure for appointing judges in High Courts to fill up backlog vacancies within eight weeks.

The document presented to Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan here said, "all efforts shall be made to put in place 700 judges in select high courts having greater pendency."

The judges would be appointed on contract and paid Rs 1 lakh per month on an understanding that they clear at least 2,500 cases per year -- the average disposal rate of a sitting HC judge.
Similarly, 15,000 judges would be employed in trial courts for a two-year term and work in three shifts.
"Judges need not spend eight hours in court, but instead could work in five-hour between shifts, the judges can sit with special staff for dictating judgements," the statement said, adding it would be possible to bring down the pendency of cases by December 31, 2011.

The document, outlining the National Minimum Court Performance Standards, also suggested that disposal of cases at national level should be raised from 60 per cent to 95 to 100 per cent in the next three years.
It said each court should ensure that no more than 5 per cent of the cases be more than five years old.
CJI K G Balakrishnan said vacancies keep arising in courts due to retirements and suggested that 3,000 more judges need to be appointed in subordinate courts.
As an immediate measure for implementation under the Action Plan, the National Arrears Grid (NAG) would be set up under a senior Supreme Court judge to ascertain on a scientific bases the accurate number of arrears in all courts.
The NAG will submit a report to the Prime Minister by January 31 next year.
As of July 2009, 53,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court, 40 lakh before high courts and 2.7 crore before lower courts. This is an increase of 139 per cent for SC, 46 per cent for HC and 32 per cent for lower courts.
"Our criminal justice system, with a staggering 2.63 crore cases pending in the district and subordinate courts (of which 29.49 lakh cases pertain to traffic challans and motor vehicle claims), is close to collapse with relatively unimportant cases clogging the judicial system," Moily said, addressing a national convention on reducing pendency and case delays.
 Collegium system coming in way to tackle judges shortage
Government  said that the present collegium system of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary was coming in its way to overcome the shortage of judges and suggested involvement of executive and legislature to hunt for the best talent.
"The increased numbers of members of collegiums has made the consultation process cumbersome and hence there is a delay in the selection and elevation of judges," said the Vision Statement presented to Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan by Law Minister M Veerappa Moily here.
The Vision Statement comes just days after Moily had said "may be, we have to revisit the procedure" on the appointment of members of the higher judiciary.
It said the collegium system was particularly hindering the process of appointment of judges in cases of deadlock as there are no guidelines to handle such situations.
"There are no guidelines dealing with situations of a deadlock or lack of consensus among the members of the collegium, or dealing with situations where the majority members of the collegium disagree with the CJI," the document said.
The document suggested that there should be "lucid and comprehensive guidelines which the collegium should follow in the matter of selection of judges".
It expressed hope that the executive and legislature will take initiative in recommending the best possible talent for selection to the judiciary.

The collegium should be given a time line to clear the backlog in vacancies, the document said.
The Government and the collegium should work hand in hand while appointing judges so that the difference between the two does not lead to delay in appointment, it said.
The government should also be given the power to suggest outstanding lawyers and jurists as judges, it added.

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