SC, govt to work on reducing mounting backlog of cases

Steps on anvil to provide relief to millions of litigants

Addressing the concluding session of the two-day-long conference on “the National Consultation for Strengthening the Judiciary Towards Reducing Pendency and Delays”, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said he would “extend all possible help to the government in its endeavour to reduce the number of pending court cases and delay in their disposal”.

Union law minister Veerappa Moily said the Centre, in active participation with the state governments, was finalising an ambitious scheme to appoint 15,000 trial court judges and 700 high court judges on contract for two years to work in three shifts to eliminate arrears of court cases within three years.

Moily said that in order to avoid any delays in judicial cases, classification was required and the cases that needed urgent hearing would be given priority. The conference attended among others by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and high court chief justices, adopted the Union law ministry’s ‘vision statement’, which finalised a multi-pronged scheme to eliminate backlog of court cases.

The vision statement has different schemes from the National Litigation Policy to make the government shed its dubious tag of being the largest litigant and transform it into “a responsible and reluctant litigant from a compulsive one” to establishing a National Arrears Grid for scientific monitoring of pending cases and time taken in their adjudication at various levels. Justice S H Kapadia said courts were not experts in financial management and the government should help the judiciary in handling its finances. He said the government should think of enhancing court fees from the litigants filing corporate and business cases to fund the judiciary to subsidise the justice delivery system for the common man.

The vision statement envisaged that this radical scheme would reduce the backlog of cases to a three-year pendency period by December 31, 2011.

Mukherjee said: “Some states, which had ensured smooth law acquisition and enforcement of law, have attracted FDI more than other states.”

He said foreign investors always weighed the cost of capital, and delays in the courtroom led to additional cost in investment, which repulsed FDI.

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