NEW DELHI: The Law Commission on Monday submitted a report to the Ministry of Law and Justice recommending urgent measures to increase the strength of judges in High Courts and subordinate courts and set up timeframe to dispose of cases. The Commission also recommended increasing the retirement age of judges of lower courts to 62, bringing it on a par with judges of the 24 High Courts.
“There is an urgent need to fix rational, non-mandatory timeframes for different types of cases and use such timeframes as a basis for setting judge performance standards, litigant expectations and making more robust policy recommendations for the judiciary,” the commission report reads. According to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who had tabled the latest data on pending cases in the country in the Lok Sabha, said while 63,843 cases are pending in the Supreme Court as on May 1, 44.62 lakh cases were pending in the 24 High Courts at the end on 2013.
At the end of 2013, 2.68 crore cases were pending in the various subordinate courts. The total comes to about 3.13 crore cases. He said against the approved strength of 906, the 24 High Courts were functioning with a working strength of 636 judges -- a shortfall of 270.
The panel said there was an urgent need to increase the strength of judges in the HCs to ensure that appeals and revisions from additional cases disposed of by subordinate courts are dealt with timely.
The report said the recruitment of new judges should focus, as a matter of priority, on the number of judges required to break even and to dispose of the backlogs within a three-year timeframe.
The panel recommended that special morning and evening courts be set up for dealing with traffic and police challan cases, which constitute 38.7 per cent of the institutions and 37.4 per cent of all pending cases in the last three years before the subordinate judiciary.
“Facilities be made available for online payment of fines as well as the payment at designated counters in the court complex...recent law graduates may be appointed for short duration (three years) to preside over these special traffic courts. These courts should only deal with cases involving fines. Cases which may involve imprisonment should be tried before regular courts to ensure fair process,” it said.