RUING THE number of cases pending in the courts, retired Supreme Court Justice B N Srikrishna on Saturday suggested that a mechanism should be introduced to ensure that when a judge retires, another is available to take his place immediately.
Seven retired jurists of Supreme Court and Bombay High Court, along with three senior lawyers, on Saturday participated in a panel discussion on ‘Judicial Pendency: Challenges and Solutions’ at KC College.
“The government should have a mechanism through which, if they know that a particular judge is going to retire in six months, they should find another one to replace him during that period. So, when the judge is retired, another takes his place immediately,” said Justice (retd) B N Srikrishna.
On the functioning of the Supreme Court, Justice Srikrishna said that out of 100 matters, while 95 are rejected outright, only five cases are admitted. “I had a theory which I discussed with my colleagues… that I am willing to do my work of reading the matters, but after reading the 100 matters that were circulated before me, I know that some of them are going to be so useless that I don’t have to hear anybody and even if the best lawyer argues, I am going to throw it out,” he added.
“On the other hand, some matters are so good that even if the worst lawyer argues it, I am going to admit it… because of this, the time I hear cases is reduced to 2/3rd of the four-and-a-half hours on Monday and Friday,” Justice Srikrishna said.
Bombay High Court Justice (retd) J H Bhatia said these days, with so many cases pending, the court is unable to give a matter the time it deserves. “As per law, a case should be disposed in six months, but in reality, in six months, even the verification statement of the complainant is not recorded because the magistrate has no time.”
Justice Bhatia added that it is necessary to set up more courts, only then pendency could be tackled. HC Justice (retd) Roshan Dalvi said that frivolous petitions are also a reason behind pending cases.
HC (retd) Justice Vijay C Daga said: “Another reason is that barring the Bombay HC judges, other state HC judges come at 1 pm instead of 10.30 am and some of them hardly work.” He suggested that while arbitration is the best mechanism, compromise is better than waiting for years to get a judgment.
Advocate Sanjay Asher, senior partner with Crawford Bayley & Co, said that the parties, before coming to court, should make use of mediation. “It is easy to say in the spur of moment ‘see you in court’… but the parties should try and resolve their dispute out of court. Once you have filed a case in court, rest of your life you will have to keep running behind lawyers.”
Senior SC lawyer Firoze Andhyarujina said that there should be a mechanism of e-courts, wherein the parties would file petitions and written statements online, following which, judges would only grant them two hours in all to argue.