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  • Govts must exercise restraint in approaching courts: President

    Published on August 1, 2010

    Governments being the biggest litigants should exercise restraint in approaching courts in order to decongest the system and reduce overall pendency of cases, President Pratibha Patil said.

    “Government agencies being one of the biggest litigants must exercise restraint from routinely instituting litigation and clogging the system,” she said while inaugurating a seminar on judicial reforms in New Delhi on Saturday.

    Calling for efforts to ensure speedy delivery of justice, Patil stressed on the need to re-look into the archaic laws to make them in tune with the present requirements, saying “making the language of law simple can prevent unnecessary litigation”.

    She said there was a need to analayse challenges, particularly the infrastructural requirements for a quick justice delivery system and for reducing the mounting cases.

    “We must take stock of the challenges and structural weaknesses which beset our legal system impeding equitable access to prompt and quality justice. Judicial reforms occupy a salient place in government’s agenda,” the President said.

    She also voiced concern over the “explosion of litigation” saying that current figures reveal that the arrears in High Courts exceed 40 lakh cases, while in the Subordinate Courts, it surpasses 270 lakh.

    “Now as the Chief Justice of India has talked about the difference between arrears and pendency in cases, I think we will have to review these figures,” she said.

    Earlier, CJI S H Kapadia had made distinction between the arrears and pendency of cases and said the calculation has to be reviewed as there are flaws in it.

    The President said the archaic laws, if needed, should altogether be scrapped.

    “There cannot be better governance without better laws and there cannot be better laws if antiquated ones remain. Archaic laws and outdated administrative regulations must be scrutinized and if necessary scrapped or amended. Making the language of law simple can prevent unnecessary litigation,” Patil said.

    She appealed for making the court procedures simple and straight for speedy justice.

    “We must re-engineer and simplify court procedures, which otherwise tend to make litigation unduly slow and protracted. Frequent demands and liberal grant of adjournments, filing of multiple suits and similar tactics make judicial productivity sluggish. Timely pronouncement of judgements and quick execution of decrees would be beneficial,” Patil said.

    She expressed concern over the disproportionate ratio of population and judicial officers which was coming in way of timely disposal of cases.

    “Congestion of court cases has been compounded by shortage of judicial manpower and low judge to population ratio. We must explore betterment of this ratio by augmenting the strength of the judiciary without compromising on quality,” she said.

    “There is a need to act fast on other parameters. Advance action needs to be taken to fill up existing and prospective vacancies. Delay in the process of judicial appointments should be avoided in the face of the huge swell in the volume of litigation. Infrastructural improvement and court working conditions deserve prime attention,” she said.

    Patil applauded the National Mission for endeavouring to implement an Action Plan to reduce pendency of cases from 15 years to 3 years by 2012.

    The recommendation of the 13th Finance Commission granting Rs 5,000 crore to state governments to mitigate case arrears has been accepted by the Centre.

    “Now, the state governments together with the Bar and the Bench must find innovative methods to liquidate backlogs in a time bound manner,” she said.