Pune district needs 14 more judges including district Judges and Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) – pending cases have piled up to a whopping 3.5 lakh, according to the Pune Bar Association — a report by the Bombay High Court to the Law and Judiciary Department of the Maharashtra Government states.
Registrar of the Bombay High Court submitted the report to the department after the government sought to know the number of judges needed to be appointed in district courts. The government had sprung into action after city based activist Vihar Durve filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) questioning the delay in increasing number of courts to deal with pending cases.
The PIL asked the HC to direct the government to immediately follow Supreme Court (SC) directives for creation of additional 10 per cent posts of judges in district courts. The HC asked the government to make the appointments immediately as pending cases – including crime against women, accidents, murder – were increasing.
“As per the report, 212 judges were needed in district courts across the state. The strength of judges needed is a measure of pending cases and often fluctuates according to circumstances,” said A P Kurhekar, Registrar Inspection-1, BHC. The entire requirement for the state is 212 judges, he added. According to the report, Thane is top of the list and needs 20 more judges followed by Pune with 14.
According to Durve, more than 56,000 serious cases related to murder and crimes against women were pending across the state making additional courts a necessity. “As per this report, at present there are more than 10,821 cases pertaining to crimes against women pending in courts. Pune district ranks second with 1,215 cases trailing only Thane which has 1,569 pending cases. The new courts will predominantly be fast track courts to deal with grave cases,” said Durve.
Advocate Vikas Dhage Patil, president of the Pune Bar Association, said if number of cases piling up in the district is taken into account, the requirement provided by HC registrar was an ‘understatement.’
“In Pune district, the total pendency is 3.5 lakh cases of which 2.25 lakh are at Shivajinagar court alone. The guidelines say one court for every 15,000 cases so we need 225 courts for the district and 125 at Shivajinagar. Presently we only have 139 judges in the district and only 87 at Shivajinagar, thus need for new judges is more than what is stated,” said Dhage Patil.