Saturday, August 15, 2009

Judges Conference: Review of important developments in Indian Legal framework

Here are some important developments in Indian Legal framework taken from background reading to Chief Justices'conference.Thanks to Nick for posting this.
  • New Civil cases in High Courts have increased from 2.5 million in 2002 to 3 million in 2009 despite a disposal rate of 1 million per year.Criminal cases have increased from 5.3 lakhs to 7.7 lakhs with disposal rate of 4.9 lakhs.Of the total cases, 0.9 million are pending with High Court of UP.

  • In subordinate courts,civil cases increased from 7.2 million to 7.5 million with a disposal rate of 3.8 million per year while criminal cases increased from 15.1 million to 18.8 million with a disposal rate of 11.5 million. Of the total cases,5 million are pending with UP courts.

  • Indications are that number of cases filed will only increase with time.
  • If we are to remove the pendency we need to boost the output of our legal framework by 100%. Filling existing vacancies alone will boost the disposal by 50% at High court level and 25% at subordinate court level.
  • In India more than half the amount spent on judiciary is raised from judiciary and the total expenditure on judiciary is hardly 0.2%, whereas it is 1.2% in Singapore, 1.4% in USA and 4.3% in UK.

The document has following suggestions:
  • Of entire litigation,50-60% is due to central acts.There are 340 central laws that are adjudicated in subordinate courts.The state governments have to spend money for implementing laws formulated by Centre.Further, Article 247 allows Central government to setup additional courts for better administration of Central laws.
    While Central government may use lack of resources as an excuse it surely can simplify the Central laws and reduce filing of fresh cases.

  • Whenver a new legislation is enacted that is likely to increase the workload of Courts,High courts should ask State governments to accordingly increase the strength of Judges.

  • Adequate infrastructure should be provided for subordinate court buildings.Such basic facilities as regular water and electric supply are not available.Also new court complexes should be developed with proper planning.This is one recommendation that all Governments will be too happy to comply with.

  • Technology: Courts should communicate with advocates/litigants through email. Already, one can file a case through internet now at nominal charges.The court documents should be scanned.Video conferencing has been a success in states that have amended CrPC to allow it.Curious to know which states have not amended it and why and why state government?Why not a constitutional amendment?

  • All states should try to make optimal use of infrastrcture and setup Morning or Evening Courts. The ‘Morning Courts’ have started functioning in the State of Andhra Pradesh and they function from 7.30 A.M. to 10.30 A.M. five days a week. ‘Evening Courts’ are functional in the States of Gujarat, Delhi and TamilNadu also.

  • Setting up and strengthening of vigilance cells is suggested. What is not mentioned is if any vigilance cell has found anything or action has been taken by a High court upon the cell's report.

  • Alternate Dispute Resolution should be strengthened in a big way.
    In U.S.A. there are private mediation firms which employ full time mediators and possess infrastructural facilities to hold a large number of mediations. More people go to such firms rather than wait in Courts. Also, there are Court Annexed Mediation Centres, running on funds made available by the Government. There are thousands of lawyers practising exclusively as mediators. Retired Judges also act as mediators.
    There are mediators who specialize in various branches such as intellectual property, accident, commercial cases etc. and more than 90% of the cases do not go to trial


    Its noted that the reason ADR mechanism is virtually absent in India due to lack of human resources trained in ADRs and people who can train others in ADR.Further, its noted that Government being the biggest litigant should take the lead in promoting ADR. There are total only 147 mediation centers in India.This is a business opportunity waiting to be tapped!!Wondering what prevents this from happening.



PS: PIB Press Release, PM's speech during Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, Law Minister Moily's comprehensive update on GoI's action agenda.

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