Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has written to the Chief Justices of all High Courts urging them to constitute special benches on Saturdays to hear criminal appeals in which legal aid counsel have been provided.
The communication begins by citing the problem of backlog and how it raises question about the efficacy of criminal justice system.
“As you are aware, a large number of criminal appeals/jail appeals are pending in various High Courts. Delay in disposal of these appeals raises question about the efficacy of the administration of justice as a whole and criminal justice system in particular.”
In order to ensure expeditious disposal of criminal appeals/jail appeals, one of the methods that may be adopted is identification and disposal of such criminal appeals/jail appeals in which legal aid has been provided at State expenses, the letter states.
Misra J has therefore urged the Chief Justices to explore the possibility of constituting special benches to hear such cases on Saturday.
“May I, therefore, impress upon you to explore the possibility of hearing such criminal appeals/ jail appeals in which legal aid counsel has been provided, on Saturdays by specially constituted Bench for the purpose, after obtaining the consent of the concerned legal-aid counsel and State counsel. This will go a long way in ensuring speedy disposal of criminal appeals/ jail appeals.”
The letter also states some of the Chief Justices have already agreed to go ahead with the initiative.
The Gujarat High Court has constituted special benches to hear criminal appeals on Saturdays. The Patna High Court has also taken a similar decision.