CJI Dipak Misra proposes a 15-point plan to reduce pendency of cases

CJI Dipak Misra proposes a 15-point plan to reduce pendency of cases

Shruti Mahajan

On Friday, July 27, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra proposed a 15-point plan to reduce pendency of cases in the judicial system.

CJI Misra was delivering his inaugural address at the national conference On ‘Initiatives To Reduce Pendency And Delays In Judicial System’.

The inaugural session of this conference held on Friday saw addresses from Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph, apart from the CJI himself.

At the outset, CJI Misra clarified that pendency of cases is not the same as arrears of cases. He said that only the cases which are not disposed of within their case-life turn into arrears and not every delay should be hurriedly termed as an arrear.

One of the major roadblocks, CJI Misra said, was a high number of vacancies, particularly in the lower judiciary. He rightly pointed out that the litigants’ tryst with the Judiciary usually takes place at the lower judiciary level.

He highlighted that at the lower judiciary level, the arrears have been brought under control despite a fairly low number of judge-population ratio.

A large number of pending criminal appeals was identified as one of the most pressing issues. CJI Misra said that he has urged the High Courts to hear criminal appeals on Saturdays also. He says that the right to life and liberty of an undertrial or an accused-appellant is jeopardised in case of a pending criminal appeal, and the Judiciary must take all steps possible to protect this right.

“The avalanche of litigation and the docket of pending cases has to be controlled with a deft approach.”, CJI Misra said.

The suggestions proposed by the CJI are:

  1. Time Limit to dispose of technical pleas by all courts.
  2. Mechanism to monitor the progress of cases from filing till disposal, categorise cases on the basis of urgency and priority and also the grouping of cases.
  3. Set annual targets and action plans for the subordinate judiciary and High Courts to dispose of old cases and maintain a bi-monthly or quarterly performance review to ensure transparency and accountability.
  4. Keep track to bridge the gap between institution and disposal of cases so that there is not much backlog.
  5. Shortage of Judges is no doubt a factor responsible for pendency but at the same time, it is found that some courts have been functioning and performing better in the same conditions. Adopt such courts as models. This underscores the need to understand that existing capacity has to be better and fully utilized rather than solely concentrating on developing additional capacity.
  6. Modernisation, computerization, and technology – court automation systems, e-courts, digitization of court records, access to information about cases, if possible, could be made available to litigants in a more simpler mode instead to going through multiple web pages, otherwise “access to justice” would remain illusory and we would distance ourselves more from the common man who is the real beneficiary of the justice dispensation system.
  7. Strive for more alternative methods of dispute resolution in various forms like arbitration, mediation, pre-litigation mediation, negotiation, Lok Adalats, well-structured and channelized plea bargaining, etc.
  8. Committees at the High Court level have to be proactive and functional committees. They should meet at least once a fortnight and keep their surveys and reports in a digitized format.
  9. Frame strict guidelines for grant of adjournments especially at the trial stage, also stricter timelines for cases, not permitting dilution of time frames specified in CPC for procedural steps in the civil proceedings.
  10. Explore options of Saturday Courts for cases other than criminal appeals. Every drop counts for it is commonplace that little drops of water make the mighty ocean. It is small things that add up to produce the huge. It is through persistent efforts and continued application that major accomplishments would finally result.
  11. Consider and explore options for setting up fast-track courts and fixing time limits or deadlines for certain categories of cases especially in subordinate courts.
  12. Multi-pronged approach and momentum required. Lackadaisical attitude and the mindset of delay has to go.
  13. Emphasis has to be given to basics and minutest details with meticulous planning since you must have heard the way Benjamin Franklin had described how for want of just a horseshoe nail, a kingdom was lost.
  14. High Courts may form think tanks with Judges and lawyers and academicians to consider and explore other innovative modes and initiatives to reduce delays and pendency.
  15. Our motto should be – “Shaping our judicial future: Inspiring change through ‘Timely and Effective Justice”

Read the full text of the speech below:

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news