For Amar Kaur, 94, who cannot hear or speak well, coming to court on a stretcher to depose to get justice for his son Vinod is a traumatic experience. In 1994, Vinod was driven away by a senior police officer in Ludhiana and since then he hasn’t returned. Twenty-two years have passed since the murder case began. Only three of the 36 witnesses have been heard so far. And four witnesses have died without being presented in court. Kaur gave her testimony in the murder case when she was 86, 14 years after her son went missing. The case still drags on.
To give relief to people like Kaur, the Judiciary which is reeling under the pressure of pendency has found a solution to get rid of it soon. Chief Justice of India TS Thakur has now asked all High Courts to identify 200 old cases, both civil and criminal, and resolve them on priority.
Terming old cases as chronic to the judicial system, CJI has directed all 24 HCs across the country to help identify old cases first and conduct special hearings for them. The special hearings will be held twice a week and special benches will be constituted for it.
Though the common reasons attributed towards huge pendency is lawyers who frequently use delaying tactics such as routinely appealing against verdicts, or saying they are sick or failing to show up in court. Other delays also include procedural and investigative lapses by the investigating agency in the courts.
“Once the details of old cases are complied, we will then ask every High Court to dispose of these cases first,” an official said, adding that to dispose them, judges will be given additional weightage in their promotions as well.
If the plan works, then the result would be visible in six months and over 5,000 old civil and criminal cases will be disposed off.
With a mammoth pendency of over 40 lakh cases pending in 24 High Courts, and over 21 lakh cases in district courts across the country, the rate of filing of fresh cases are on a exceptionally higher side than its disposal.