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Plan SC Annual Calendar To Ensure 225 Days Per Year, 06 Hours Per Day: Representation To 5 Senior-Most SC Judges

Apoorva Mandhani
13 May 2017 2:38 PM GMT
Plan SC Annual Calendar To Ensure 225 Days Per Year, 06 Hours Per Day: Representation To 5 Senior-Most SC Judges
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A representation made to the five senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court has demanded that the Registrar General be directed to plan the annual calendar in such a way so that the Apex Court works at least 225 days per year, 06 hours per day. The representation, made by Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay further demands that High Courts be directed to:

  1. list the matters pending for over 15 years in top order every month, and expedite the hearing, in spirit of the Article 21 and Preamble of the Constitution of India;

  2. fix the next date of listing in the Court itself, immediately after hearing the matter;

  3. fix a returnable date for filing Counter/Rejoinder affidavit while issuing the notices;

  4. stop publication of Cause List, and email and SMS it to the concerned persons;

  5. impose exemplary costs on the parties responsible for not completing the pleadings within the stipulated period;

  6. impose heavy costs on the parties seeking unnecessary adjournments, and responsible for deliberate delays;

  7. ascertain the feasibility of e-filing, audio-video recording of proceedings and, pass such order as may be necessary to secure right to speedy justice in spirit of the Article 21.

The representation has been addressed to Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice M.B. Lokur, as also the Attorney General of India and the Registrar General of the Apex Court.

It relies on a resolution passed in October, 2009, at a seminar titled ‘National Consultation for Strengthening the Judiciary towards Reducing Pendency and Delays’, wherein the participants had reaffirmed their commitment to reduce the pendency of cases from 15 years to 3 years.  The resolution had been passed by the CJI, along with the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, Law Minister and Law ministry representatives, Attorney General, Solicitor General, Law officers, Members of Bar & MPs.

The letter further makes the following recommendations:

  • Blaming the increasing backlog of cases for the increased cost of justice, and corruption, the letter recommends imposition of time-limits on adjudication. It demands that the High Courts should grant only four weeks time to file counter affidavit, and two weeks time to file rejoinder affidavit. In special circumstances, additional four weeks time may be given to file counter pleadings. It also demands imposition of “heavy costs” in case of failure to file the pleadings within the prescribed time limits. Furthermore, it demands a time limit on adjudication of cases- 2 years for criminal cases and 3 years for civil cases.

  • It demands an overhaul of the appeal mechanism, suggesting that only one appeal should be permitted in civil cases and two appeals in criminal cases. Further, stays should be restricted to 30 days, and reasons must be recorded for granting a stay.

That the deliberate delays in filing the counter and rejoinder affidavit, unnecessary adjournment, procedural complexity and use of English language escalate the costs of litigation enormously for common man, deterring them from seeking intervention of the Courts. This prohibitive cost is particularly detrimental to judicial redressal in simple cases of torts, commercial disputes, service matter, civil or criminal wrongs,” the letter states.

  • Number of Judges in the High Courts be increased, and their appellate jurisdiction be restricted. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court should be limited only to matters involving interpretation of the Constitution, or disputes between two States or Union and States. Writ Jurisdiction, it says, should be strictly focused on Right to Life, Liberty and Equality before Law.

  • It recommends that a table having 10 parameters on the scale of 1 to 5 (poor, fair, good, very good, excellent) should be used for short-listing the prospective Advocates for elevation. Names of prospective Advocates should be recommended by the Chief Justice of respective High Courts in a Full Court meeting, and final approval should be given by the Chief Justice of India in another Full Court meeting.

  • National Judicial Service Commission (NJSC) should be established on the lines of Union Public Service Commission. Advocate-on-Record examination should be conducted every year on the lines of IAS/IPS, and an Advocate-on-Record should be considered for senior designation and judicial appointment only after a substantial amount of time.

  • Implementation of the transfer policy, which was described by the Constitution Bench in the First Judges case as a panacea for allegations of favoritism and conflict of interest, when a lawyer is elevated as a Judge of the same High Court where he has practiced for years.

Read the Representation here.
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