Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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The Harris Committee in West Bengal(1949), the Wanchoo Committee in Uttar Pradesh (1950), the Satish Chandra Committee (1986) and the Arrears Committee (Malimath Committee - 1989-90) had extensively dealt with the issues relating to the delays in Justice Delivery System. These Committees have identified the following causes for accumulation of arrears of cases in the Courts:

  1. Litigation explosion;
  2. Radical change in the pattern of litigation;
  3. Increase in legislative activity;
  4. Additional burden on account of election petitions;
  5. Accumulation of First Appeals;
  6. Continuance of ordinary original civil jurisdiction in few High Courts.;
  7. Inadequacy of Judge Strength;
  8. Delays in the filling up of vacancies in High Courts;
  9. Unsatisfactory appointment of Judges;
  10. Inadequacy of staff attached to High Courts;
  11. Inadequacies of accommodation;
  12. Failure to provide adequate forms of appeal against quasi-judicial orders;
  13. Lack of priority for disposal of old cases;
  14. Failure to utilize grouping of cases and those covered by rulings
  15. Unsatisfactory selection of Government Counsels;
  16. Population explosion;
  17. Hasty and Imperfect Legislation;
  18. Plurality of Appeals and hearings by Division Benches;
  19. Inordinate delay in supply of certified copies of judgements and Orders;
  20. Indiscriminate closure of courts;
  21. Appointment of sitting Judges on Commission of Inquiry;

A Comprehensive National Framework of Court Excellence (NFCE) was proposed in the Report of Sub-Committee headed by Justice G. Rohini assisted by Justice C. Praveen Kumar, Judge, High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Shri G. Shyam Prasad, Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, Shri V. Seetharama Avadhani, Director, A.P. Judicial Academy, Hyderabad and Shri G. Butchaiah Sastry, PS to Justice G.Rohini. The Committee further identified the following reasons for delay in disposal of cases:

  1. Inadequate Judge – strength
  2. Lack of supporting staff and essential infrastructure
  3. Lengthy call work consuming quality time of the courts.
  4. Repeated adjournment of cases resulting in rescheduling court process and disrupting the progress of the case.
  5. Lack of mechanism for segregating the simple cases which can be disposed off within the shortest possible time compared to complex cases involving number of witnesses.
  6. Lack of Co-ordination between the Bench and the Bar.

Civil Matters

  1. Filing of Interlocutory applications during the pendency of suits with frivolous claims and thus dragging on the proceedings in the main suit.
  2. Non-Identification of factual and legal issues in dispute at the early stage of the proceedings to find out whether there is any possibility for settlement through Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods.
  3. Failure to identify the controversy involved in the suit at the earliest stage resulting in framing of improper and irrelevant issues.
  4. Lengthy evidences which are not relevant to the issue involved.
  5. Lengthy arguments by the counsel.
  6. Failure to adhere on non-compliance of provisions spelt in the Civil Procedure Code.

Criminal Matters

  1. Delay in service of summons and execution of Non-Bailable Warrants (NBWs)
  2. Failure of the prosecution to produce the witnesses as per the schedule and failure of police to produce under-trial prisoners whenever his presence is required by the Court for lack of escort or similar other reasons.
  3. Non-availability of Public Prosecutors.
  4. Non-adherence of procedures spelt under Criminal Procedure Code and  guidelines issued by Supreme Court from time to time in its various judgement on criminal matters.

WAY FORWARD - SOLUTIONS UPFRONT

With this background it is high-time to analyse the root cause for each and every reasons that attribute to the delay in the disposal of cases and explore the economic viability and technical feasibility of the under mentioned methodologies  to address to the challenges emanated due to accumulation of cases before the judiciary:

  1. Optimisation of technology through integration of Case Types into uniform entities to deploy a robust eCourt mechanism in the case management techniques adopted in courts.
  2. Institution of Para-legal service category under Human Resources framework who would co-ordinate between the Court and the litigation by engaging the services of young unemployed law graduates for a contractual period of five years on a fixed pay basis.
  3. Fixing a time-frame for disposal of cases through legislation and non-compliance involving any of the above reasons identified by the Committee would result in time-barred/disposed.
  4. Courts should be brought under the Essential Services Act and must function throughout the year without any holidays or Sundays.
  5. Introduction of Two Court Sessions on any given day making Courts to function at least 12 hours a day. In other words, Courts should commence functioning from 8.00 AM to 2.00 PM and 2.30 PM to 8.30 PM so that same Court Hall could be used for two different benches.
  6. Virtual Hearing framework should be permanently established for All matters where physical hearing can be avoided in matters adjudicated at Civil & Subordinate Courts and Tribunals.
  7. Scrutiny and perusal of Plaints/Petitions should be facilitated under a separate bench headed by a Judicial Authority in the rank of Judge to ensure no erratic, incomplete type-sets, evidences, etc are taken up for adjudication. They need to be disposed at the admission stage itself.  A separate legislation should be framed to entrust suitable powers.
  8. Need to structure a simplified standard template for filing of petitions/plaints etc wherein all the requisite details related to the facts of the cases are briefed and referred in the process of adjudication. This would save considerable time in the legal scrutiny of matters by Court.
  9. Mobile Courts to visit the Jails and Prisons wherein the detenus/arrestees could be directly summoned and heard without making them to move out for Courts.
  10. Strengthen the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism entrusting powers to the Courts to directly refer all eligiblle matters at the admission stage itself.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied is a standard phrase used but at the same time these far-sighted solutions to address the pendency should also be understood about the fact that 'Justice Hurried is Justice Buried'.


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