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by Sushil Kumar Jain
The increasing pendency in our country’s courts is an alarming situation seeking immediate redressal. The figures published by the National Crime Record Bureau are appalling: a total of 1,86,986 murder cases were brought to trial in the year 2012 (including previous cases) but trials were completed only in 21,653 cases.
As per the latest figures there is a pendency of more than three crore cases out of which almost two crore cases are criminal cases. The arrears have a tendency to compound each year and could, if uncorrected, lead to the collapse of the judicial system.
Appreciating the gravity of the problem, a visibly pained Chief Justice T. S. Thakur emphasized the need for appointment of more than 70,000 judges to clear the pendency.
This suggestion sounds attractive at the threshold. But digging deeper into the issue, one finds that implementation of the suggestion is far more complex than it seems. Assuming that the mammoth increase in infrastructure can be taken care of, the question of sourceability of judicial talent stares at us.
This judicial talent, if sourced from the Bar, would lead to a situation of “talent exodus” and render the Bar weak and wanting. Not to mention the possibility of judicial chaos by conflicting judgments written by inexperienced hands working against time. Appointing more judges or curtailing court vacations may increase the judicial man hours needed to reduce pendency. However, it may not effectively address the problem of arrear for a long term solution.
There are several lacunae in our judicial system especially the criminal justice dispensation system which leads to increased pendency. Some of the causative factors are:
The aforesaid causative factors would indicate that apart from the increase in infrastructure, there is also a more pressing need of a systematic correction in our judicial process so that unnecessary arrears can be eliminated.
Safeguards should be placed and used to prevent abuse and misuse of the process of law. The abusers should be strictly penalized and the system should be rationalized to flag such errors.
The Bar should uphold its highest traditions and discourage filing of false cases with ulterior motives. The Bench,on its part, should strive and endeavour to ensure elimination of inconsistencies in the judgments and settle the law.