Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi initiates measures to fight pendency, prevent delays in justice delivery
Tareekh per tareekh may soon be a thing of the past given the priority Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has given to the issue of tackling pendency of court cases in India. The trial and appellate structure of the Indian judicial system comprising Lower Courts (including magistrate and sessions courts), High Courts and the Supreme Court of India all are afflicted with the malaise of a huge backlog of cases. For anybody who has approached the courts of law in India for justice, which albeit are still the last refuge for many aggrieved citizens, a 15-year wait for it to dispensed is not unusual. As a rule of thumb, in both criminal and civil matters, a decade in the trial courts and another five years in appellate courts is common. That ought to surprise none given there are 2.77 crore cases pending in the Lower Courts, 32.4 lakh cases in the 24 High Courts and 55,000 before the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice has correctly identified one aspect at the root of the issue – judges being on leave or unavailable on working days – and issued a set of robust instructions to ensure this practice is severely curtailed if not wholly eradicated. Redressal of two other grievances which lead to an inordinate delay in disposal of cases – advocates’ and litigants’ non-appearance and/or irregularity in attending court – is also in the hands of the presiding judicial officers who have all powers to warn and take punitive action if there is any mala fide found in such tactics.
The most praiseworthy element of the CJI’s initiative is that he has shone the light within, to try and fix what is in the hands of the judiciary and he has consulted, via video-conferencing according to a newspaper report newspaper, the collegium of all High Courts comprising their respective Chief Justices and two senior-most judges to ensure that everybody is on the same page.
For starters, the practice of judges being allowed to take leave on working days unless due to pressing emergencies has been forbidden and those who do not follow this rule are liable to have judicial work withdrawn from them. In fact, the CJI has reportedly asked High Court Chief justices to report to him directly any transgressions of this disciplinary measure aimed at inculcating a work culture that should be an example to us all. Additionally, the CJI has expressed his disapproval of judges of High Courts and subordinate courts being away from work to attend seminars, workshops or official functions. He has also banned judges availing of their annual LTC during working days sending out the clear signal that while officers of the court do have the right to take a break they ought to, like most other professionals across sectors, plan their leave in advance and avail of LTC during prescribed court vacations. Last but not least, the Chief Justice of India has urged High Court collegiums to urgently recommend appropriate names (after proper and thorough vetting) to fill up the large number of vacancies for judges while advocating that the monitoring of the working of lower courts, which at present is a quarterly exercise and often a mere formality, becomes a robust exercise to be conducted daily. Thank you, Your Lordship.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer