Justice delivery system is headed towards a disaster. Judges must take responsibility. Here’s what they must do

How to address the pendency of cases in Judiciary? 

Context: Currently, the number of pending cases in our courts is 446 lakhs and by 2022 it will cross 500 lakhs. The justice delivery system is hurtling towards a disaster.  

What possible solutions can avert the pendency? 
  • Filling sanctioned judicial positions: A detailed analysis shows that between 2006 and 2017, the average increase in pendency was about 2.5% per year whereas the average vacancy in the sanctioned judicial positions was about 21%. If the sanctioned positions had been filled the pendency would have gone down each year.  
  • In subordinate Courts: The subordinate judiciary is selected by a competitive examination. But they are not hiring adequate numbers. For example, Haryana Judicial Services Examination called only 9 candidates for interviews against 107 posts advertised. 
  • Suggestions: The IT industry often hires 1,00,000 employees in a single year and they take the best on offer. The IITs admit about 11,000 students each year with the same approach and do not have more than 1% vacancies. Selection of judges should follow the same approach to fill the sanctioned positions. 
  • For high courts: 33% positions are filled by promotion from the subordinate judiciary and the rest are recruited by direct offers to the advocates who have successful practice. A simple and sensible option would be to promote 80% from the subordinate judiciary. 
  • The responsibility to ensure near zero vacancies should be placed on the chief justices of the high courts and CJI and they should be held accountable. Currently, nobody believes they are accountable, and filling judicial vacancies is not considered a matter of priority. 
  • Improve working by using technology: Many government services have shown significant delivery improvement post technology adoption. Such as, public health, education, income tax returns, postal services, passport services, rail reservations etc. But still, the judicial delivery system not adopted it. The e-Committee of the Supreme Court has been in existence since 2005. It has made four outstanding recommendations which are not being followed. These recommendations include, 
  • Computer algorithm to decide on case listing, case allocation and adjournments with only a 5% over-ride given to judges. 
  • E-filing in all courts: The committee put together detailed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) on how petitions, affidavits, payment of fees can all be done electronically without lawyers or litigants having to travel to courts. This should be implemented in all seriousness. By eliminating paper, it would also save 3 lakh trees annually. 
  • Virtual Hearings: Covid prompted the courts to adopt virtual hearings. However, virtual hearings were held only in some cases. Unless virtual hearings are adopted, the backlog of cases will cross 5 crores by 2022. 
  • Virtual Always: Even the first and second standard students are learning in a virtual mode, then All courts must switch to virtual mode immediately and start disposing cases at their normal speed to begin with. This would make access to justice easier for lawyers and litigants 

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The CJI must treats these suggestions as an urgent Suo Motu PIL (Personal Interest Litigations) and converts the Covid calamity into an opportunity. 

SourceTimes of India 

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