Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha today expressed alarm about the pace of criminal justice system in the country and stated, "I am not satisfied and an effort has to be made to improve the system. I have my own limitations. I can't set up new courts,” adding that "There is no institutional fast track. You have to come out with a frame work on the type of cases that have to be fast tracked and this should be in consultation with state governments".
He stated that he was pained with the situation, with trials pending for decades, stating that good governance means expeditious criminal justice delivery system.
The Bench also comprising of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton F. Nariman noted that even though fast track courts have been set up so far in some cases of crime against women, the process is still being undertaken at a slow pace.
The Supreme Court rapped the Centre for the slow pace and urged it to present a comprehensive policy within a month after discussions with the State Governments.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was advised to arrange a meeting of chief secretaries and law secretaries of states to study the crisis. He assured the Court that all required steps will be taken.
Referring to Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s suggestion to fast-track criminal cases against MPs, CJI Lodha stated, "We need finance and infrastructure. Don't do it at the cost of other cases. Have additional courts.”The Court said that there are several other categories like women and senior citizens where criminal trial needs to be expedited.
Modi had demanded support from the apex court in order to eradicate criminality from politics. "Would it not be better if the guilty are punished? Then every time you file an affidavit you don't have to put down a case that some NGO will highlight as a pending criminal investigation," Modi said in Rajya Sabha while replying to the debate on the President's address to Parliament.
"Pendency of criminal cases for 10 years does not augur well for democracy," the SC bench said.
The Court was hearing a petition was filed by National Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh, who sought the release of Pakistani prisoners who have already completed their sentences but were still languishing in jail.