A. Subramani

Subordinate judiciary told to dispose of at least 30 suits a month

  • Circular says monthly list of courts must contain 40 suits
  • Lawyers say lack of infrastructure will pose a problem
  • Circular says monthly list of the courts must contain 40 suits
  • Advocates say lack of infrastructure will pose a problem to this target

    CHENNAI: Advocates and subordinate judicial officers are "dismayed" at a recent circular from the High Court directing the subordinate judiciary to dispose of at least 30 suits every month.

    The July 26 circular, issued by the Registrar-General, stipulates that the monthly list of the courts must contain 40 suits and that 75 per cent of them "shall be tackled and disposed of." It also states that one-money suit and a title suit shall be there in the list on every working day.

    Assailing the conditions, P. Thirumalairajan, secretary of the Federation of District and Subordinate Courts Bar Associations of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, says it is impossible to achieve the target. Courts have an average of only about 22 working days. In suit matters they have to consider the evidence of plaintiff, defendant, attestor, scribe and witnesses, besides the arguments.

    He says the Federation has called for a meeting of its constituent associations on August 15 or 16. "The meeting will be held in Coimbatore."

    Money suits will take a minimum of three days, while title suits take at least 10, he says, adding that firm suits and account suits will extend for months. Due to lack of infrastructure even photocopies of evidence are not being given to advocates. They will require at least two days to go through evidence copies.

    A subordinate judicial officer, maintaining that it is impossible to meet the condition, says the higher judiciary has failed to take into account matters such as pending interlocutory petitions, legal heir petitions and written statements.

    If some of these documents are either not filed or not available, suits will not be ripe for disposal.

    Another official says many courts lack sufficient number of typewriters, photocopier machines and stenographers.

    The strength of steno-typists must be doubled. According to him, the target can be achieved only if advocates cooperate with judicial officers.

    In this regard, he says it is not proper for the High Court to insist on subordinate courts having their trial works only in the afternoon. "If all courts post trial works to afternoons, where will the advocates handling more than one trial go?"

    "Lack of knowledge"

    A senior advocate says the circular has been issued only because of lack of knowledge in trial matters, and adds that increasing the number of Judges to the ratio stipulated by the Supreme Court in the All India Judges Association case will be a more agreeable solution.

    According to the order, reported in 2002, the then ratio of 13 judges to a million population was to be raised to 50 judges per million population within five years. "The Central Government, which had given a solemn undertaking before the apex court, is yet to honour its commitment," he adds.

    Mr. Thirumalairajan says the move is a clear attempt to take all these suits to lok adalats or similar alternative disputes resolution fora.