Former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi on Saturday proposed a model to reduce the judicial backlog, saying, “If we fill the vacancies we will not need more judges.”
He was speaking on ‘Judicial pendency, challenges and solutions’ at an event organised by Mumbai First and KC College at the college.
Mr. Gandhi, presenting his ‘formula’, said, “Draw up a list of retirements for next five years and renew it every year; estimate vacancies due to deaths, resignations, promotions based on previous three years’ data; and every year, forecast the number of cases for next three years and factor the additional judges required.” Adding up the three, the process of exams and collegium recommendations can be started every six months.
Speaking at the event, retired Justice B.N. Srikrishna of the Supreme Court, said, “There are a number of variables that vary in their capacities to increase judicial disposal. It depends on the number of judges, quality of judges, quality of legislation and quality of lawyers.”
Retired Justice J.H. Bhatia of the Bombay High Court said, “justice delayed is justice denied”, and said judges cannot devote enough time to cases. He gave the example of Section 138 (dishonour of cheque for insufficiency, etc., of funds in the account) of the Negotiable Instruments Act and said “the legislation did not realise what will happen to the court by bringing this out.” He said, “Lakhs of matters come up and none can be disposed of in the prescribed six months because the magistrate does not have the time.”
Senior counsel Firoze Andhyarujina listed five steps to reduce pendency. “There should be e-courts, an alternate dispute resolution, increase in tribunals, human resource department in courts and simplification of the law,” he said.
Mr. Gandhi stressed the need to fill vacancies by narrating a story of a 23-year-old farmer from Vidarbha who came to Mumbai in search of a job, spent his first night on the footpath and was detained by the police. He spent three years in jail until a human rights lawyer bailed him out. He went back to his village only to find that his six-month-old child had died and his wife had married a 60-year-old. Heartbroken, he killed himself.