The chief justices of all the High Courts will consider the possibility of fast-tracking cases related to crimes against women and children at the Chief Justices’ Conference 2016 scheduled to take place in New Delhi next month. If approved, this can go a long way in speeding up justice delivery to women and children. The crimes against women include rape, molestation and dowry harassment. Though the past couple of years have seen much faster decisions in courts, this move could lead to the creation of a legal arrangement where such cases will be fast-tracked.
The chief justices will also mull over the feasibility of fast tracking of cases pertaining to differently-abled persons, senior citizens and marginalised sections of society. Also, the CJs will discuss the possibility of fast-tracking of cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act. These cases are usually registered against public servants for different acts of corruption, such as amassing disproportionate wealth.
The agenda note circulated by the Union Law Ministry to all the High Courts across the country says that the Chief Justices’ Conference will be held on 22-23 April, followed by a joint conference of Chief Ministers of the states and the chief justices on 24 April. Both the conferences will take place in New Delhi.
The agenda is accompanied by a covering letter from the Union Law Minister, V. Sadananda Gowda, who has pointed out that pendency of cases is the biggest challenge facing the judiciary today.
The minister has also pointed to a worrying fact that about 29% of the pending cases in the district and subordinate courts are pending for over five years. The number of cases which are over 10-year-old is 11%.
“One of the reasons for pendency is the vacancies in the subordinate judiciary which are about 5,000 out of the sanctioned strength of about 20,000 in the country,” Gowda said. “The vacancies of judges need to be filled up expeditiously by the High Courts in consultation with the state governments,” he said.
The previous conference was held in April last year where it was resolved that the chief justices would set up “arrears committees” and prepare an action plan to clear the backlog of cases which have been pending for over five years.