Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Judicial vacancies a major reason for pendency of cases: CJI Ramana replies to Law Minister Kiren Rijiju

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Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Saturday said the major reason for the huge backlog of cases was due to the vacancies in courts that had not been filled.

Responding to the concerns raised by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on the pendency of cases in courts and the huge number of undertrials in jail as a result at the 18th All India Legal Services Meet today, CJI Ramana said not filling up judicial vacancies was to blame for pendency of cases. It was a matter of concern that over 5 crore cases are pending in courts across the country in the 75th year of Independence, he said.

Earlier, Law Minister Rijiju had called for a coordinated effort by the judiciary and the executive in reducing pendency. Rijiju said pending cases in India are touching 5 crores. What’ll be the situation after 25 years? he asked. He said he had told ministry officials yesterday to bring the number down by 2 crores in 2 years, the Minister said.

In Amritkal, India should have a justice system that is speedy and accessible, CJI Ramana said.

After completing his printed address, the CJI said it is his responsibility to respond to the comments of Law Minister regarding pendency. He has already indicated this in the last Chief Justices-Chief Ministers conference, the CJI said.

At the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Courts at New Delhi on April 30, the CJI had said the non-performance of the various wings of the executive and the ambiguities in the legislations were contributing a lot to the case load of the judiciary.

The CJI had also said that the pendency is blamed on the judiciary but the issue of unfilled vacancies and increasing sanctioned strength of judges need discussion.

However, the major important reason is the non-filling up of the judicial vacancies and not improving the judicial infrastructure, the CJI said.

In his prepared speech, the CJI said the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is settling around 2 crore pre-litigating cases and 1 crore pending cases last year Justice Ramana said the legal aid service settled around 2 crore pre-litigating cases and 1 crore pending cases last year.

Lauding the efforts of the NALSA Chairman Justice U.U. Lalit, the CJI said judges and officers worked extra hours to achieve this feat. Justice Ramana also spoke of other initiatives of NALSA like the Lok Adalats, online mediation portal. Such mediation efforts will also reduce the pressure on the judiciary and not add to the growing backlog of cases, he said.

CJI Ramana also thanked Justice A.M. Khanwilkar for his efforts to modernize the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, which has adopted a litigant-centric approach to improve accessibility.


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