Meghalaya HC CJ Unveils Action Plan To Reduce Pendency Of Cases In Subordinate Courts

Meghalaya HC CJ Unveils Action Plan To Reduce Pendency Of Cases In Subordinate Courts

In a unique initiative by Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal, an action plan has been devised for reducing cases that have been pending in the subordinate courts of Meghalaya for five years or more.

In Meghalaya, cases used to be tried by the Deputy Commissioner/ District Magistrates before separation of subordinate Judiciary from the executive, which took place in 2013. As a result, the state has around 14,000 pending cases which are more than 5 years old. The action plan is thus a drill to ensure that these backlogs are cleared.

The action plan sets 31.12.2019 as the deadline for disposing off cases that are older than ten years and 31.03.2020 as the deadline for disposing off cases that are older than five years. Hearing of these cases will not be adjourned beyond 15 days in ordinary circumstances. However, in making this extra effort for disposal of such old pending cases, care has to be taken to not neglect other cases.

Directions have also been made to resort to the provisions of Section 309 of CrPC in appropriate cases and costs may be imposed for seeking adjournment, even if the adjournment is necessary. Further, bail/ zimma applications have to be disposed within 3 days but not later than 1 week from the date of hearing.

Every judicial officer of the state has been directed to ensure that at least 10%-15% cases that are more than five years old are disposed off every month and any deviation therefrom has to be reported to the High Court immediately. Further, cases involving social concern have to be put on fast track for speedy disposal.

The action plan sets the following trajectory to be followed by District and Sessions Judges:

  1. All cases registered under POCSO shall be disposed off within 6 months of filing of charge sheet;
  2. Revision petitions filed against orders passed under Section 125 CrPC shall be disposed off within 6 months and petitions seeking guardianship, divorce or custody of children shall be disposed off within one year, from the date of filing;
  3. Day to day trial shall be held for all criminal appeals pending for more than a year and criminal revisions pending for more than 6 months, and they shall be disposed off by 31.12.2019;
  4. Cases where chargesheet has been filed and the under trial prisoner has been in custody for 1 year or more, shall be disposed off by holding day to day trials, within 2 years from date of first arrest;
  5. Monthly meetings shall be held with Deputy Commissioners and SPs wherein the list of cases with the name of the concerned police stations where the processes have not been served shall be furnished and efforts shall be made for improving justice delivery;
  6. A list of pending 5 year plus old cases shall be made every month, with the stage of each case and reason for pendency;
  7. Bi-monthly meetings shall be held with Judicial Officers within each Judgeship for effective monitoring of the action plan.

The action plan further sets the following trajectory to be followed by the courts of Munsiff/ Judicial Magistrate:

  1. Cases where the under trial prisoner, has been in judicial custody for more than 6 months, shall be disposed of within the next 6 months;
  2. All cases triable by the sessions court shall be committed, immediately;
  3. All 1 year plus old petty cases shall be disposed off under Section 258 of CrPC;
  4. All cases under the N.I. Act shall be disposed off within 6 months of institution and any such case pending for 5 years plus shall be disposed off within next 3 months;
  5. Cases under Section 125 of Cr.PC and under DV Act shall be disposed off within 6 months of filing;
  6. Caveat filed under section 148-A of CPC shall be disposed within 90 days, as prescribed;
  7. Inquiry by JJ Board under Juvenile Justice Act shall be completed within 4 months from the date of incident;
  8. Further remand of accused in judicial custody shall not be done in a mechanical manner and legal provisions and judicial pronouncements in this regard shall be followed.

Apart from the aforementioned, each judicial officer has been directed to make a personalized action plan based on his/ her docket size & nature of cases and devote an extra so to achieve the targets within time.

Notably, 4 more districts namely Khliehriat, Resubelpara, Baghmara and Mawkyrwat have still not been separated. Justice Mittal will inaugurate Mawkyrwat on 31.08.2019 and the remaining three by the end of this year.