Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, Justice R Subhash Reddy on Sunday requested the state government and judges to dispose of land acquisition cases as, he said, they had huge financial implications for the state. While formally inaugurating the newly established district and sessions court of Morbi, Justice Reddy said average pendency of cases in each district of Gujarat was around one lakh.
Majority of these pending cases were petty cases, those of compensation for motor vehicle accidents and land acquisition cases. He requested help from Minister of State for Law and Justice, Paradeepsinh Jadeja, who was present on the occasion, to reduce the pendency of land acquisition cases.
“Land acquisition cases, why references are pending for many years together? And for every district of Gujarat, there are hundreds and thousands of land acquisition cases pending for references for years together. Why? Honourable minister is here. I want to share the information. In land acquisition cases, the interest needed to be paid out with compensation is sometimes 15 per cent. If references are pending, some things will increase some day or the other if the evidence is on record. So, litigants will get 15 per cent interest which no bank is giving. Maximum is 10 per cent interest on deposits. If the matter remains pending for 10 years, 115 per cent interest will have to be paid by the government from the exchequer. So, I request the honourable minister also to concentrate on these areas, give suitable instructions to land acquisition officers and collectors of the state for ensuring expeditious disposal of such cases,” the CJ said while addressing judges and members of Morbi and Rajkot bar associations after inaugurating the Morbi district and sessions court.
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With this, Morbi becomes 29th judicial district of the state. Morbi was established as a new administrative district in August, 2013. It was carved out of Rajkot and Surendranagar districts. But until October 2, it was part of Rajkot judicial district. The new district had one additional sessions judge. But with the establishment of a new district and sessions court, now Morbi has a district principal judge and two additional sessions judges. High Court judges, Justice Paresh Upadhyay, Justice Bipin Karia, principal district judge of Rajkot, IC Shah, principal district judge of Morbi, Rizvana Ghoghari, Morbi Bar Association president JR Jadeja and present of Rajkot Bar Association, Sanjay Vyas were also present at the ceremony.
Justice Reddy asked judges also to ensure that pendency of cases of land acquisition comes down. “Thousands of cases. Why? At the same time, I request my officers also to take up such cases without any delay and dispose of such cases. There should be no problem in clearing the pendency of land acquisition references,” he said.
The CJ noted that there was an excellent coordination between the state and judiciary in Gujarat, a rare phenomenon, he said, as compared to other states and therefore high pendency of cases a matter of surprise. “The new has 16,062 cases pending as on today and the the first district judge Rizwanaji has a huge burden… Districts in Gujarat have average pendency of one lakh cases (each)… Contested matters are in hundreds. Serious matters are only in hundreds. Pendency is huge in petty cases, motor vehicle compensation cases and cases of land acquisition references,” Justice Reddy said.
Earlier this year, the CJ had said that around 42 lakh cases were pending in the state and had wondered if Gujarat can be called a developed stated with such a high pendency. On Sunday, he said judges and lawyers owed an answer to the people of the state why pendency was so high in the state despite there being required infrastructure for judiciary and “an excellent coordination between state and the judiciary.”
He exhorted judges and advocates as well as litigants to opt for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and Lok Adalats for speedy disposal of cases.
With this Morbi district becomes the third of the seven new administrative districts set up in 2013 to be notified as new judicial district also. Before Morbi, district and sessions courts have been established in Gir Somnath and Aravalli districts. The court in Morbi will function out of the existing building of the court of additional sessions judge in Lal Baug area of Morbi.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Jadeja said the state government was committed to doorstep delivery of justice and would provide required infrastructure in other new districts also for establishment of district and sessions courts.