Justice Costs Rs 6,327/Min In Delhi HC

Justice Costs Rs 6,327/Min In Delhi HC 11 Feb 2009, 0312 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg, TNN Text: NEW DELHI: If you just fought a case in the Delhi High Court and felt the hearings were all too brief, here is why. With a staggering number of 3,32,141 cases that came up before the High Court during 2007-08, each case barely received five minutes of hearing (4 minutes 55 seconds, to be precise), HC's annual report released on Tuesday reveals. And, each minute of court's time cost a staggering Rs 6,327 to the exchequer. Even an adjournment without hearing doesn't come cheap. All listed cases cost the court an average of Rs 1,300, even if many got adjourned immediately. The report, which was released by Chief Justice A P Shah, claims it disposed of 56,612 cases, including 47,017 that were filed in that year alone while HC worked with 32 judges, much below its sanctioned strength of 48. While pointing to the "crushing load" on the courts, the Chief Justice said at present rate of disposal, it would take 466 years for the High Court to clear its backlog of cases entirely. He, however, said, "We have been able to reduce the cases of arrears from 79,818 in 2007 to 74,599 in 2008". The report adds that the rate of disposal of criminal cases in the year worked out to be 0.5 case per day. While such "working hours" analyses are done every year for bodies like Parliament and state legislatures, this is perhaps the first time a judicial body has come up with its figure. The time and money spent have been worked out excluding "matters handled during summer vacation (June) and on three working Saturdays during 2007-08". In order to calculate the time judges gave for each hearing, HC factored in the total number of cases dealt by judges, sitting as a single bench or division bench, in a day (64 cases on average) with the total time available for them to hold court (315 minutes). Similarly, adopting an innovative method, HC arrived at the cost of its operation by considering its budget and the time spent on hearing cases in financial year 2007-08. The total expenditure incurred by the court last year was Rs 42.45 crore for 213 working days. "The average cost of listing each case before a judge worked out to Rs 1,297 and the average court expenditure per minute by the court was Rs 6,327 or Rs 19,93,180 for each working day," the report said. The court's disposal rate was faster than the rate of filing of fresh petitions, due to which the number of pending cases came down in 2007-08, it added.
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