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Fast-track justice: Govt clears sweeping reforms,a national arrears grid

Seeking to take the justice delivery system to its next level,the UPA government yesterday put its seal of approval on a blueprint for judicial reforms....

Written by Swaraj Thapa | New Delhi | December 5, 2009 4:24:36 am

Seeking to take the justice delivery system to its next level,the UPA government yesterday put its seal of approval on a blueprint for judicial reforms that aims to accelerate disposal of cases from 60% to 95-100% in the next three years and ensure that no more than 5% of cases in all courts in the country will be over five years old by 2012.

By the time the UPA government finishes its tenure in 2014,the ambitious project aims to ensure that no more than 1% of cases in courts should be more than one-year-old. A legal reform cess,along the lines of the existing education cess,is also not being ruled out that will fund the new network maze of courts and judicial infrastructure dealing with the backlog of cases.

Piloted by Law Minister M Veerappa Moily,the national mission for delivery of justice and legal reform that was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday,proposes to provide this “timely justice” by setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) “which will be the critical powerhouse reducing pendency of cases from 15 years to three years.”

“All cases pending as on January 1,2009 will be treated as arrears. The SPV has a target to eliminate all arrears from the Indian Judicial system by December 31,2012,” says the document.

The three-year timetable will target cases that have clogged the courts for several years. These include matrimonial cases,regular murder cases/appeals,civil cases,cases involving dishonouring of cheques,cases under Prevention of Corruption Act besides petty traffic challan cases and motor accident cases.

To process these,special courts will be set up that will operate on a non-stop day-to-day basis with no adjournments except in rare circumstances. Presiding officers will be given laptops preinstalled with suitable software for faster justice delivery. The law ministry will also create a national IT grid that will ascertain and analyse the exact number of arrears in every court in the country. Development of the grid will be outsourced to a private Indian IT company,says the document.

The law ministry document says that commercial and arbitration cases will be put on a separate track. It goes on to state that judges well versed in commercial laws and practices as well as specialist arbitration judges will handle such cases.

The law ministry,demonstrating its sensitivity,also wants a mechanism in place that will prioritize and expedite cases filed by senior citizens,terminally ill persons,cases pertaining to pretrial and juvenile prisoners besides women who are victims of violence.

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