Friday, December 5, 2014

CJI tells HCs to clear cases over 5 yrs old

Concerned at rising pendency of cases older than five years in high courts, Chief Justice of India Justice H L Dattu has written to chief justices of all HCs asking them to ensure that such cases are not pending in any court, including the subordinate judiciary under them.

Pendency of over five-year-old cases has significantly increased in high courts, with 30-40% of such cases in many of them. In the Allahabad high court, country's largest HC, this pendency is as high as 60%. Interestingly, pendency of such cases in subordinate courts has come down to 4%-6%.

Sources said the CJI had written to the CJs of HCs last month as pendency of old cases had substantially gone up in many of these courts. In several judgements earlier, the apex court had expressed displeasure on the subordinate judiciary giving repeated adjournments, prolonging trial.

In order to enforce SC orders, the government had even brought in relevant amendments in Section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and suggested the idea of imposing cost on judges for giving unnecessary adjournments in civil cases. It was, however, never done.

The amendments in CrPC, intended to give speedier justice, were notified effective November 1, 2010 and provide for no more than three adjournments. Sources in the law ministry said it is not being implemented by courts and resulting in uncalled for increase in the pendency of cases.

Section 309 of CrPC provides that "every inquiry or trial shall be held as expeditiously as possible and the recording of examination of witnesses shall be continued on day-to-day basis unless the court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded".

With subordinate courts bringing down the pendency of older cases, the focus of the apex court is now on HCs to clear all cases older than five years, many of which are cases of heinous crimes against women and children.

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