Expediting Justice Delivery

Zafar Choudhary. Updated: 2/7/2018 12:32:00 PM Edit and Opinion

Late delivery of justice in the country has been a long pending issue plaguing the judiciary, with cases running into years before reaching a fair stop.

Jammu and Kashmir, while having just one percent of the country's population, sits on the 5th spot in the list of states with highest average years pendency of a case. Only after seven years, a case filed in subordinate courts of the state reach its conclusion, on a average.

Things are not better in other states as well, with Rajasthan, with least average pendency, still takes close to four years, before justice is delivered, on average. As per a latest study conducted on national level, the reason for this has been attributed to more than half of Judges' time being spent on administrative work, the hearings suffering badly.

These administrative work include fixing dates for future hearings, reissuing summons, and case dministration decisions which consumes as much as 55 percent of court time spent by judges each day. The issue is not new, however.

In fact, majority of high courts' case flow management rules already have a provision of delegation of such duties to administrative officers. Not to mention lack of suitable officers in registry who could deal with the issues, failed its implementation.

Jammu and Kashmir has close to 1.22 lakh cases pending in high and other courts across the three regions, which is rising with each passing day. Only last month, apparently in a passing reference to this pendency, Chief Justice of State High Court has even emphasized that mediation is the best way to settle dispute, instead to taking those to courts, which sap energy and finances.

The statistics only vindicate his words. As many as 47 percent of the cases that a judge hears each day, are adjourned, for varying reasons, attributable to each part of the system, including the judge, parties or the case, advocates, witnesses and court administrators. The courts, despite umpteen attempts, are not able to pick up pace in dispensing with the cases, thus underlining the need of delegating these "nonsubstantive" work to courtappointed administrative officers rather than burdening judges. If we are able to achieve that we are looking not just at enhancing efficiency, but also over double the increase in case disposal rate.

Besides, with sheer pressure of cases being down, the judges will be able to give fair hearing to each case with substantial rise in number of minutes it currently give to one.

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