A study carried out by the Ministry of Finance found that it takes, on an average, almost 20 years for a property related dispute to be resolved. By that timeline, it would take 324 years just to clear the present backlog at the current rate of disposal!
The huge backlog of pending cases is a critical logistical and efficiency issue. To tackle the issue, NITI Aayog recommends the following capacity building and sustainable solutions should be considered in consultation with the judiciary:
1. Shift certain sections of the workload out of the regular court system to commercial courts, the commercial division and the commercial appellate division of High Courts for commercial disputes and the Criminal Judicial Magistrate for criminal cases at least in metropolitan areas to decongest courts.
2. Merge and rationalize tribunals to enhance efficiency. Appointments to tribunals must be streamlined either through a specialized agency or under the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
3. Judicial decisions need to take account of their economic and social impact, especially in cases pertaining to contract, labour, tax, corporate and constitutional issues as observed by the Supreme Court in a recent judicial decision.
4. An all-India judicial services examination on a ranking basis can be considered to maintain high standards in the judiciary. The selection process may be entrusted to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for a cadre of lower judiciary judges (first induction level), Indian Legal Service (both centre and states), prosecutors, legal advisors, and legal draftsmen. This will attract young and bright law graduates and help build a new cadre that can enhance accountability in the governance system.
5. Multi-faceted training faculty for judicial academies including reputed lawyers, successful NGOs and others, for holistic exposure.
6. Training modules should be live streamed on an e-platform to make information easily accessible, and widely disseminated.
7. A performance index for judges and a separate state wise index for ease of getting justice.
8. Introduce an administrative cadre in the judicial system to streamline processes. To maintain judicial independence, the cadre should report to the Chief Justice in each High Court.
9. Prioritize court process automation and ICT enablement for electronic court and case management, including electronic management of court schedules and migration of all courts to the unified national court application software.
10. Facilitate the availability and usage of videoconferencing facilities to assist in speedy access to justice and to minimize judicial logistical issues.