NEW DELHI: Next time if any judge adjourns a case without a valid reason, there are chances of him getting negative marking in his or her annual appraisal system.
An internal study, conducted on the Judicial Service in all the six courts across the capital by a committee appointed by the High Court, revealed that the present appraisal system of judges in the subordinate judiciary requires immediate change, with more importance to those who decide cases older than five years and negative marking for giving more adjournments in the case. The study has also recommended a better score for judicial officials taking the arbitration route.
“Resolution of litigation through arbitration again would qualify a judge for more weightage than deciding a normal case as it saves both the judiciary and the litigant money and time in settlement of cases,” sated the report submitted to the High Court last month.
Assessment is done on a quarterly basis and reports are submitted to the High Court through the District Judge concerned. Due attention has also been given to the quarters under which vacation period falls and judges will have to dispose of 80 per cent of the prescribed form.
The Ministry of Law and Justice is also planning to connect 15,000 subordinate courts across the country and all the High Courts with the national judicial data grid and then judges will be able to monitor the number of adjournments given, type of cases, time taken for pronouncement of judgments etc.
All these will be factored in for the appraisal of judges. Other parameters that would determine a good appraisal include the quality of judgments delivered, number of cases disposed of and method of resolution adopted. Currently, there are over three crore cases pending in the country.
The report also states, “It has been widely noticed that judicial officers in lower courts are mostly unaware of the recent amendments carried out in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) and are simply ignoring certain mandatory obligations in delivery of judgments. For instance, amendments made in Section 309 of the CrPC provide that no more than three adjournments in a civil case are allowed and this has to be strictly adhered to.
Any departure from this practice has to be adequately explained by the judge concerned in his order. Any lapse will now go against the judge while his Annual Confidential Report is being written, with provision for negative marking being incorporated.”
At present, the judicial officers are given a timeframe for disposal of certain category of cases, but it is often seen that there are cases where the difficulty level and time required for its disposal are high but no incentive is provided for the same. So, under the new appraisal system due care is being shown to take this into account.