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Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan said more evening courts would be opened across the country to reduce the pendency of cases in various courts.

Inaugurating the training of judicial officers and lawyers on the techniques of mediation and conciliation, Justice Balakrishnan said, ‘Evening courts had been started in Gujarat and Delhi, and more such courts will be started in other parts of the country.’ Karnataka had recently agreed to start evening courts considering the backlog of cases in the courts and the government had also agreed to provide 30 per cent of the basic pay as incentive to the judicial officers, he added.

Justice Balakrishnan said the pendency had increased in the Supreme Court by 23 per cent and the Kerala High Court by 20 per cent.

Even though the number of cases had been increasing steadily, the number of judges and courts remained the same and in Kerala, no new courts were opened in the last five years, he noted.

The CJI said the number of cases in the courts could be reduced through Lok Adalats, evening courts and a professionalised mediation system.

He noted that the state governments were asked to pay 30 per cent of the basic pay of the judicial officers, as incentive and lawyers with less than seven years of practice would be working in these courts, which would be functioning from 1800 hrs to 2000 hrs.

The evening courts would dispense justice very fast and would be hearing mostly petty cases, he said.

‘Litigation was increasing because of the faith reposed by the public in the judiciary and we should not shake that confidence,’ he added.

Reiterating the importance of mediation in settling cases, he said people were not opting for mediation as litigation was cheaper compared to other countries, but this mode of settlement should be opted to save time and money.

More than three crore cases were pending in various courts and it would take almost five to ten years to clear the backlog and mediation was an option to reduce the pendency of cases, he added.

The CJI also stressed the importance of imparting training to lawyers on the nuances of mediation.

Echoing the views of the CJI, Supreme Court Judge S B Sinha said effective mediation would help in reducing the number of pending cases in the courts.

He also stressed the need to set up a Mediation Training Institute to provide professional training to judicial officers and lawyers.

Kerala High Court Acting Chief Justice J B Koshy, among others, were present.

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