Ease of doing business: address judicial delays next

The Economic Survey on Monday called for addressing pendency of cases in various courts and appellate tribunals as the next course of ease of doing business. It said the delays discouraged investments, stalled projects, hampered tax collections and stressed tax-payers.

The survey said the ministries of power, roads, petroleum, mines and railways were the worst hit due to delays, since their project costs were predominantly debt-financed.

The survey said that nearly 30% of a project's life is taken up by formal proceedings like service of summons and notices - the issues that may be easily resolved through technological upgrade for filing and service mechanisms.

"Pendency, delays and injunctions are overburdening courts and severely impacting the progress of cases, especially economic cases, through the different tiers of the appellate and judicial arenas. The government and the courts need to both work together for large-scale reforms and incremental improvements to combat a problem that is exacting a large toll from the economy," it said.

For this, the survey suggested expanding judicial capacity in lower courts and reducing the existing burden on high courts and the Supreme Court.

It suggested that the lower judiciary deal with economic and commercial cases, and high courts be allowed to focus on streamlining and clarifying questions of law. For that, it suggested amendments to Civil Procedure Code, Commercial Courts Act and other related commercial legislations.

It suggested the government may consider incentivising expenditure on court modernisation and digitisation. This needs to be supported with greater provision of resources for both tribunals and courts.

The direct tax cases stuck in litigation (Appellate Tribunal and upwards) by the quarter ending March, 2017, amounted to nearly Rs 7.58 lakh crore or over 4.7% of the GDP.

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