New Delhi, Aus 16 (PTI) Over 3.11 crore cases are pending in the country’s trial courts and High Courts, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan said today.
Addressing a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts here, the CJI noted that there were 52,592 cases pending before the Supreme Court, over 40 lakh cases in High Courts and more than 2.71 crore cases in trial courts.
Balakrishnan called for resorting to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods like Lok Adalats, mediation, negotiated settlements to reduce the burden of pending cases and for their quick disposal.
He said special emphasis should be given on sensitising the judges to the needs of the litigants belonging to the disadvantaged sections.
Pendency of cases a worry for PM, CJI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan on Sunday voiced concern over huge pendency of cases and judicial vacancies, but skipped the controversial issues of corruption in judiciary and declaration of assets by higher court judges. Singh said despite its strengths, “India has to suffer the scourge of the world’s largest backlog of cases and timelines, which generate surprise globally and concern at home. In this war on arrears, the apex court has to discharge a vital role.
“The government will not be found wanting at any level in this joint effort. We promise to match each step of the judiciary with two of our own. We will not hesitate to walk the extra mile at every opportunity,” he said.
The Prime Minister and the CJI were speaking at a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in New Delhi which comes in the midst of a national debate on instances of judicial corruption and raging controversy over declaration of assets by judges of higher judiciary.
Echoing similar sentiments, Balakrishnan said the “chronic shortage” of judicial officers was hindering efforts to overcome the backlog of cases. There are structural obstacles which discourage talented law graduates from joining the judicial services and over 17 per cent posts of judicial officers remained vacant in the subordinate judiciary, he said.
“There has undoubtedly been a chronic shortage of judicial officers, especially at subordinate level and there are also some structural obstacles which discourage talented law graduates from joining judicial services,” the CJI said. Referring to vacancies in high courts and subordinate courts, Singh said meritorious individuals should be appointed timely to judicial posts and vacancies should be filled up “without any loss of time”.
“The existing vacancies in high courts are quite high in number and need to be filled up urgently. I would urge the chief justices of high courts to initiate proposals for quickly filling up these posts.” Referring to the ambitious gram nyayalaya project, he said the legislation for village courts has been enacted in January this year, but is yet to be enforced by the states.
“I would urge that the state governments initiate immediate action to operationalise the Gram Nyayalayas Act in their states. Once the Act is fully implemented, we will have more than 5,000 courts at the intermediate panchayat level. These will bring justice to the doorsteps of the common people,” he said.
Singh said while there could be differing views on the adequacy of the assistance being provided, “this should not hold us from speedily bringing the Act into force”. Concerned over a large number of undertrials languishing in jails, he said, “Many such undertrials have been in jail for periods longer than they would have served had they been sentenced. There have been pronouncements of the high courts and the Supreme Court on this issue but still the number of undertrials in jails continues to be very large.”
Press Trust Of India / August 17, 2009,