'Litigation policy must for states'

Moily wants bulk of undertrials to be released before month-end

The days of fancied personal assessment of judges are over, the minister asserted.
Inaugurating a regional meet of the chief justices, law ministers and secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry here, Moily was of the opinion that in the days of competition and performance, “integrity and excellence” had to go together. High-level contacts and PR abilities alone will not make any person “ a responsible judge,” he said.

Indicating that the Centre was keen on the ‘National Judiciary Service’ concept, Moily said another round of dialogue will be held to get states’ support.

Every state will also have to come out with a ‘State Litigation Policy’ as a precondition for implementing the Finance Panel’s recommendations, he stressed. The minister made a fervent appeal to discuss measures for effective utilisation of the 13th Finance Commission funds for the judiciary.

Moily urged the participants to prepare a ‘vision document’ and a ‘time-bound perspective plan’ on the ten agenda items in the backdrop of the Finance Panel having given Rs 5,000 crore.

Urging that top priority be accorded to filling up judges’ vacancies at all levels, Moily said over 30 per cent of the 895 vacancies in the High Courts were due to non-availability of judges, leading to pendancy of cases. In the four High Courts in the South itself, there were 43 vacancies to be filled.

Release of undertrials

Referring to his dialogue with various chief justices in January to release all eligible under-trials to help reduce congestion in jails, Moily said of the three lakh under-trials in January 2010, 1.60 lakh had been released either on bail or discharged by May. This was a “fantastic” achievement, he said.  

Except for 30 per cent of the prisoners convicted for serious offences, the remaining under-trials could be released and this “process can be hastened to ensure a total of two-thirds of existing under-trials released from all our prisons by July 31,” Moily urged.
 The Finance Commission had given Rs 2,500 crore for setting up courts to exclusively try ‘petty cases’ and once this burden was offloaded from the  High Courts, the latter could speed up disposal of pending cases, he added.

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