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