Pendency: Huge judicial challenge

Pendency: Huge judicial challenge
Highlights

On the last working day of the court for the session which ended recently, Justice Nooty Ram Mohan Rao of the High Court had on board over 379 cases. Added to this matters were taken up as unlisted ‘lunch motions’.

On the last working day of the court for the session which ended recently, Justice Nooty Ram Mohan Rao of the High Court had on board over 379 cases. Added to this matters were taken up as unlisted ‘lunch motions’. In addition, he also presided over a division bench for a short while. He was, on that day, not the only judge given to bite much more than he could chew. Even statistically speaking the judge had 300 minutes to work and a stated list of 379 cases. It was thus a foregone conclusion that the judge would leave for the day with the work incomplete.

There was till recently a practice in the courts that ‘motion list’ cases, especially in the criminal branch, were taken up a day after they were filed. The logistics involved was that the citizen moved the court with his written pleading in accordance with the procedural requirements. The registry would verify on the said date of filing whether the petition so filed was in accordance with law. The procedural prescriptions clarified, the matter was listed the next day for judicial consideration. Most criminal cases involve human liberty. Invariably they deal with the freedom to be free and with dignity. Today it is a known factor that even those who file criminal cases have no assurance that the matter would be taken up the very next day. Forget the system’s software, it is the hardware that is crashing and this is a matter of serious concern.

Justice and by implication speedy justice is assumedly part of the fundamental right to life and liberty. In fact it is beyond the pale of argument that it is part of human rights. It is surely too late in the day to point out that the veracity of the system lies in its capacity to deliver. While lawyers are often blamed for seeking and taking adjournments for the mere asking, the system has reached a state where even the hesitant lawyer’s enthusiasm to echo the emotions of his client may not get immediate hearing and thus the echo gets lost in the wilderness.

There is no doubt that judges in the court and for that matter across the board in the country are grossly over worked. Do they turn out to be great qualitative pronouncements? Wonder if they can keep going without that degree of self belief! The fact however is that they do churn out tremendous amount of quantitative work in a system burdenedwith numbers. When Justice Raja Elango disposes off hundreds of criminal cases in four days and Justice Nagarjuna Reddy disposes off 200 company petitions, these are mind boggling numbers. They also reflect beyond sincerity, an unmatched degree of efficiency and efficacy they bring on board. To revert to the example of Justice Nooty Ram Mohan Rao who has the burden of two courts and has been dealing with them (in the midst of his debating mind set to arrive at the truth) it shows how there is a great effort being made by those within the system to match the growing demand.

It is here that the Karta of the family would have to take a more proactive role. As the master of rolls if there is a visible lack of sensitivity to the manner of the functioning and the exercise of the power ends with just the exercise and not a check on how effective it is, it would only add to the already existing threat of docket explosion. Time that those involved in the exercise of the relevant power also sensitise themselves to the managerial skills required to deal with the challenge. The common man could become cynical and that does not augur well for the health and hygiene of the judiciary. Some judges are turning out super human results. This is unfair and unscientific. Work needs to progress in a more scientific manner, lest the system crumbles under its own numbers and credibility.

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