Tuesday, January 31, 2023

UP moots a proposal on case pendency, Takes up “witness” issues

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The courts in Uttar Pradesh are bogged down by pending cases. The figures are distressing and alarming, to say the least.

By Khurram Nizami and Mahima Chowdhary

According to sources, there are almost a million pending cases in the Allahabad High Court and Lucknow High Court. More than two million cases are yet to be disposed of in other courts of the state.

What is the reason for this huge pendency? Sources say absence of witnesses during hearing and lack of testimony from witnesses are major hurdles.

In order to solve the problem, the Prosecution Department of UP has sent a “proposal” to the state government that addresses almost all issues related to witnesses.

The buck can’t be simply passed on to witnesses for the staggering number of pending cases in the state. That is what the “proposal” indicates. After an in-depth research, the department has concluded that witnesses have their own set of problems. They are required to spend inordinate time at several courts in the state. As cases linger on, they, per force, spend money on fooding, travel and other ancillary expenses.

The “proposal” has earmarked a daily allowance of Rs 50 for witnesses. As of now, they are paid Rs 10. It also states that witnesses must be summoned in courts after crosschecking their original address, and any change in address must be notified to the court in time.

The “proposal” also suggests separate areas for witnesses and plaintiffs. And, significantly, it recommends that no witness be allowed to leave court premises unless he or she submits her testimony.

Surya Kumar Shukla, the Director General of the Prosecution Department, said that the “proposal” has been drafted in order to solve the problems faced by the legal machinery in UP.

He further stated that it was not practically possible to provide protection to each and every witness. Shukla informed that the “proposal” had taken up the issue in right earnest and suggested state protection for witnesses under duress.

The onus now lies on the UP government to consider or set aside the “proposal”. If taken seriously and implemented in the right spirit, it will address a major challenge confronting the judiciary.


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