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A welcome initiative by the judiciary

Chief Justice, Supreme Court, P Sathasivam deserves credit for the massive attempt to address the issue of the humongous backlog of pending cases. The mega Lok Adalat organized on 23 November saw 300 benches at the Supreme Court, high courts, district and taluk courts across the country handling cases. A record settlement of over 30 lakh cases was made on a single day with Tamil Nadu accounting for a staggering 13.7 lakh cases.

IE has been expressing concern over the massive piling up of cases that exceed 31 million pending before the courts. Lower courts account for over four-fifths of these and high courts around  eighth. A matter of concern is the piling up of cases before the high courts and the Supreme Court due to the ease of appeals. Adjournments are sought and given at the drop of a hat. The system and the manner of recording evidence and arguments is primitive. The listing of cases and management of these to specific time schedules are devoid of system. Even writ appeals suffer inordinate delays with adjournments common. While in the US, arguments on such cases are limited to 30 minutes each to the two sides, paving the way for quick disposals, in our courts, there is no such time limit.

Unlike in the US, the average tenure of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India is hardly a year. In the case of the current Chief Justice it is just around five months. In such a tenure what far-reaching changes can be made? The principal beneficiaries of the current system are the lawyers who seem to have a special interest in prolonging litigation.


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