NEW DELHI: Seeking to speed up disposal of cases, government is weighing the option of introducing the system of 'pre-trial hearings' on the lines of the UK and the US under which the main dispute is identified before the beginning of the trial helping the courts decide the matter fast.
The codes of criminal and civil procedures will have to be changed to introduce the concept.
In pre-trial hearings, litigants and their lawyers hold a pre-scheduled meeting before the trial begins in the presence of a judge of a judicial authority to identify the actual issues of disputes so that none of the contesting parties can bring in other issues to drag the case by seeking adjournments.
The issue of introducing such a system, which is in vogue in the UK, the US and Singapore, was part of the agenda of the Advisory Council meeting of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms held on Wednesday.
In India, the system of pre-trial hearing is not clearly identified as a distinct feature of the judicial process, although both the Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code contain certain provisions that can be utilised for this purpose, the agenda paper said.
In the case of Ramrameshwari Devi vs Nirmala Devi, the Supreme Court had also recommended certain steps that trial courts should follow to improve the system of administration of justice in civil cases. This included carefully scrutinising the pleadings and documents filed by parties immediately after the filing of civil suits, the document prepared by the Law Ministry said.
Government believes that "pre-trial hearing may prove to be of great help in facilitating a settlement of dispute by way of an amicable compromise between the parties."