Look Who’s Feeding Pendency

Source– The post is based on the article “Look Who’s Feeding Pendency” published in The Times of India on 19th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Functioning of judiciary

Relevance– Issues impacting the justice delivery

News– The article explains the issue of judicial delays and pendency of cases in courts of India.

Over 4 crore cases are pending in the subordinate judiciary, apart from 56 lakh in HCs and about 70,000 in SC.

Government has proposed engaging lawyers as judges and bringing back retired judges as ‘ad hoc’ judges as out-of-the-box remedies to tackle this issue

What are three important factors for the huge pendency of cases and delays in the judicial system?

AdjournmentMechanical adjournment at all tiers of the judiciary is the single biggest contributor to the pendency of cases.

Procedure for adjournment is not codified in our statute book. Adjournments are asked and given casually.

A faint attempt was made when the Civil Procedure Code was amended exactly two decades ago. It says that each adjournment decision should specify the reason for the adjournment. It should not exceed three adjournments before the verdict is pronounced. These rules are not followed in true spirit.

Admission– Admissions of new cases are also responsible for long pendency. Admission rate in SC is a healthy 11%, HCs are too permissive. HCs admit almost all cases brought before them. There are no rules for admission.

Appeal- Appeals is the third factor contributing to judicial delays. The government is the biggest culprit here. Bureaucrats opt for appeal against every single order to save their own reputation and to delay losses.

What is the way forward to resolve the issue of judicial delays?

The issues related to frequent adjournments, admissions and appeals must be addressed. Constitutional courts must first practise prudence on the three ‘A’s and then ensure it percolates down to magistrate courts.

Every adjournment should be treated as a minor judicial decision requiring a written reason. As a result, the rate of adjournments will reduce.

Judges should disallow adjournments at least in cases where either of the parties enjoys an interim order of stay or injunction or status quo.


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