K. K. Pant*
Huge backlog and pendency has been a matter of concern as it delays the disposal of cases in the courts. Of the 3 crore cases pending, 74% are less than 5 years old. The Chief Justice of India has expressed the need of making the judicial system 5+ free by addressing 26% of the old cases which are of more than 5 years. The Government has been constantly endeavouring and working towards improvement in judicial system in the country jointly with the judiciary. In this direction the Government has been undertaking computerization of courts since 2007 and has been investing on improving infrastructure in the judiciary since 1993-94. Of late, establishment of National Court Management System has been notified by the Chief Justice of India. This would be addressing issues of case management, court management, setting standards for measuring performance of the courts and a national system of judicial statistics in the country.
In order to free the criminal justice system of clogging, which is taking place on account of cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 serious efforts are being made to dispose them of on priority through special courts, Lok Adalats and Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms. Instructions have also been given to the States to utilize funds under the Thirteenth Finance Commission for this purpose as well as for setting up special courts and morning/ evening courts to dispose of such cases.
Reducing the delay and arrears in courts has been the constant endeavour of the Government. For this, several steps have been taken in the past both for making structural changes as well as for monitoring the performance of the courts in so far as their disposal are concerned. The disposal has been accelerated by undertaking special drives, the recent one being from 1st July, 2011 to 31st December, 2011. Of late, the Government has set up a National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms which will be addressing the issues of delays and arrears in the judicial system as well enforcing better accountability at all levels through a variety of methods which will include setting and monitoring of performance standard, enhancement of capacity through training at various levels etc.
Besides, the Government has been assisting the States in many ways:
The Government is also conscious of the need to recruit talented and experienced persons including lawyers as Judges as this goes a long way in disposing of cases in courts. The Constitution was amended in 1977 to provide for an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) under Article 312 of the Constitution. There has been overwhelming support in favour of AIJS later also by the Law Commission in its Reports, the First National Judicial Pay Commission, Committee on Centre State Relations and Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee. However, consensus on having AIJS has not been possible in the consultations held with the State Governments and the State High Courts. But the Government proposes to pursue it by offering a more plausible and acceptable formulation of AIJS. (PIB Features.)
*Deputy Director (Media & Communication), PIB, New Delhi