Judges to put in extra hrs, days

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

Faced with criticism about the mounting backlog of cases and long vacation enjoyed by the courts, the judges will now put in extra hours and days in disposing of cases.

The matter came up for discussion at the conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices here on Sunday. The Meeting was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Talking to reporters along with Law Minister Veerappa Moily after the conference, Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan said they had decided to increase the working hours and days of courts.

The courts will increase its working hours by half hour per day and will now function 220 days from the existing 210 days. The CJI admitted that over 3.11 crore cases were pending in the country’s trial courts and High Courts.

Earlier, expressing concern over delay in disposal of cases, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justices of States to expedite filling of vacancies of High Court judges and subordinate judicial officers.

Earlier the Prime Minister assured the Government’s support to judiciary in setting up Gram Nyayalays while inaugurating the conference.

“Our country is having the world’s largest number of pending cases. The High Courts are short of judges. Existing vacancies in High Courts are still quite high and needs to be filled up...I appeal to the Chief Justices of High Courts to initiate proposals for quickly filling up these posts,” said the Prime Minister, narrating the high volume of statistics of pending cases in several tiers of judiciary.

“Almost 3,000 posts of subordinate judicial officers in the country are lying vacant because of the delay in recruitment. All the posts at the subordinate level need to be filled up without any further loss of time. Our efforts should be for an arrear-free mechanism on justice delivery,” added Singh.

The Prime Minister told the conference that the Government has decided to set up 71 additional CBI courts in different States on the advice of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan. He said fast track courts should conduct trials faster than the ordinary courts.

Singh also said that it was a matter of concern that a large number of undertrials have been languishing in jails and have served more than their period of punishment.

He said there has been pronouncements of high courts and the Supreme Court on this issue, but “still the number of undertrials in our jails continues to be very large”.

Later the CJI said that there evolved a consensus in the conference to expedite the recruitment of subordinate judicial officers. However, he did not make any specific reference to filing up of the vacancies of judges in High Courts.

Balakrishnan said considerable number of vacancies at subordinate level have been filled in recent months but still 2,783 out of 16,946 sanctioned posts were lying vacant which called for a compelling need for State Governments and High Courts to work in close coordination to fill up the vacancies in a time-bound manner.

Pointing out that 52,592 cases were pending before the Supreme Court, over 40 lakh cases in High Courts and more than 2.71 crore cases in trial courts, Balakrishnan called for resorting to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods like Lok Adalats, mediation, negotiated settlements to reduce the burden of pending cases and for their quick disposal.

To questions on judges’ declaration of assets, the Chief Justice said that they would implicitly obey what the legislature says. “Let the Parliament make a law. We will implicitly obey,” he said.

On the Madras High Court Judge R Reghupaty issue, the CJI said he stood by what he had said earlier on the issue. “I stand by my comment that no Minister telephonically contacted the judge,” Balakrishnan added.

Only eight Chief Ministers attended the conference. Sheila Dixit, Narendra Modi, YSR Reddy, Bhupinder Hooda, Digambar Kamat, Parkash Singh Badal, Ashok Gehlot and Tarun Gogoi were the participants, while Law Ministers represented other States.