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Updated: August 19, 2009 03:15 IST

Chief Justices call for roadmap to reduce arrears

J. Venkatesan
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High Courts are seized of the problem of large number of pending cases. The Madras High Court is seen in this picture. Photo: V. Ganesan.
The Hindu
High Courts are seized of the problem of large number of pending cases. The Madras High Court is seen in this picture. Photo: V. Ganesan.

The annual conference of Chief Justices of various High Courts held here on August 14 and 15 has asked the High Courts to devise a roadmap to expedite disposal of arrears of cases, and to streamline and improve the justice delivery system.

The meet which discussed the steps required to be taken for reduction/elimination of arrears resolved as follows: The High Courts will make scientific and rational analysis as regards accumulation of arrears and devise a roadmap for themselves and jurisdictional courts to arrest arrears of cases, taking into account average institution, pendency and disposal of cases and to ensure speedy trial within a reasonable period of time.

Another resolution said, “the Chief Justices of the High Courts will explore the possibility of increasing the number of working days from 210 to 220 in a year or increase the number of working hours by 30 minutes a day.”

The conference discussed the proposal to increase the ratio of appointments to High Courts from amongst Judicial Officers to 50 per cent of the strength of Judges in the High Court concerned instead of the present one-third, but no decision was taken.

It may be recalled that various associations representing the legal fraternity had voiced their protest against any move to increase the ratio from the present one third to 50 per cent. As a result, in the list of resolutions, this proposal is simply described as ‘discussed’.

For augmenting the infrastructure of subordinate courts, it said “the High Courts shall take assistance of an expert in accounts for the purpose of preparation of the scheme and total expenditure required therefor and thereafter submit a proposal to the State Governments. The Chief Justices will also take into consideration “the National Judicial Infrastructure Plan.”

It said “the Chief Justices of the High Courts shall take up the matter with the State Governments on the aspect of supply of electricity to subordinate courts during working hours and to impress upon the State Governments to ensure that no power cuts be allowed during courts working hours and generator sets, as back-up supply for electricity, be installed in the court complexes, especially in rural areas having acute power shortage.”

Another resolution said “the Chief Justices of the States, where morning/evening courts in subordinate courts have not so far been set-up, will take up the matter with their respective State Governments and such courts be set up at the earliest, wherever found feasible, to deal with cases involving petty offences, including traffic, municipal offences and cases arising out of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.”

To deal with corruption, the meet wanted strengthening of vigilance cells in the High Courts, which would be under the direct control of the Chief Justices of the High Courts.

All complaints, in the first instance, will be placed before the Chief Justice of the High Court, who will refer them to the Vigilance Officer of that Court. The cases relating to major penalties such as compulsory retirement, dismissal or removal will be placed before the Full Court of the High Court.

It wanted holding of courts in jail by every Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or the Chief Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate/Judicial Magistrate of the area in which a district jail falls, on a regular basis to take up the cases of those undertrial prisoners who are involved in petty offences punishable by up to three years or are keen to confess their guilt. The Chief Justices of the High Courts will expedite the matter with the respective State Governments for this purpose.

Keywords: High Courts

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