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Is our judiciary a sinking ship?
Recommendation is not enough to save it from the quagmire of perils

The 13th Finance Commission has recommended Rs.5,000 crores for judicial reform that would trim down court logjam from an average 15 years to 3 years in the next three to five year period. The recommendation is for the time frame of 2010-2015! Let’s try and understand the break-up of Rs.5,000 crores. To start with, Rs.2,500 crores is allotted to 14,825 morning/evening special courts with an aim that they will solve 112.5 million cases in the next five years. Though the figure seems impressive, the Finance Commission advocated staffing these courts with regular judiciary or re-employed retired judges instead of special judicial or metropolitan magistrates. Therefore, these courts have to rely on retired judicial officers, with no assurance of targeted upshots in the stipulated time period. The prior track record of utilization of allocated funds is not encouraging at all, to say the least. The funds allocated for Fast Track Courts by 11th Finance Commission was not all released; and not all released funds were utilized, primarily because of apathetic approach of State Governments to use the money. Further, Rs.250 crores is earmarked for training of judicial officers, Rs.300 crores for Judicial Academies, and Rs.150 crores for training public prosecutors. Interestingly Rs.450 crores is assigned for restoration of 150 heritage court buildings which are more than 100 years old.

Presently, the total pendency is a staggering 29.1 million, while a dreadful 530,000 cases are more than 10 years old in our high courts. Even the total cost that will be required to bring about any tangible change in the system would not be less than Rs.80,000 crores with annual running cost of at least Rs.160,000 crores. The promise made by our Union Law Minister, Veerappa Moily seems a very tall order; one hopes it’s achieved still.

By:- Sayan Ghosh

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