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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Justice Clocks In All HCs To Reflect Pendency Of Cases

It is most heartening to learn that the Centre is very serious on reducing the pendency of cases in all high courts. It is also most heartening to learn that the government will shortly install ‘Justice Clocks’, which is an electronic LED display message board, at each of the 24 high courts to show daily disposal of cases and pendency besides ranking each of these courts. The ‘Justice Clocks’ will be used to create public awareness about disposal and pendency of cases in each of the high courts (HCs) and later in all the subordinate courts.

                                             To put things in perspective, the idea of ‘Justice Clock’ was floated by PM Modi in 2017 to rank the performance of each of the high courts and other courts, create a competition among the courts and also rank them as per performance in disposal of cases. This Modi feels will encourage competition among the courts to work faster so that more cases are disposed of in lesser time and their court tops. This will ensure all courts have a constructive competition amongst themselves to emerge as the winner.

                                      It needs no rocket scientist to conclude that when courts will compete with each other in disposing of cases, the pendency of cases will come down tremendously! Junior law minister PP Chaudhary had recently informed Parliament that a decision had been taken by the government to install ‘Justice Clocks’ in all the high courts. He said that, “The government is planning to install electronic LED display message board systems called Justice Clocks for creation of public awareness about the disposal and pendency of cases and general progress in the justice sector.

                                        While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that a model of the Justice Clock was first installed in the justice department of the law ministry last year at its Jaisalmer House in the capital. The clock highlights the citizen-centric services besides providing “information regarding district and subordinate courts which dispose of the highest number of cases pending for various lengths of time such as 0-2 years, 2-5 years and above 10 years. The minister said that, “Installation of similar Justice Clocks was proposed by the department of justice in all the 24 high courts of the country.”

                                  Having said this, let me not shy away from also putting on record my very strong observation that this alone is not going to serve any purpose at all for which it  is meant unless other steps are also taken along with it. The most important step is the landmark recommendation of the 230th report of Law Commission of India which recommended establishment of more benches in India in different states. But till now only 2 states have gained from it – Karnataka and Maharashtra. Karnataka earlier had just one bench at Hubli but in 2012 2 more benches were created for Dharwad and Gulbarga for just 4 and 8 districts respectively. Similarly for just 6 districts of Maharashtra which already had 3 benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji, a fourth bench was created at Kolhapur. The rest of the states especially the big states like UP, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha etc have been left in the cold! Why this raw and most blatant discrimination?        

                             It has been one year since Yogi Adityanath came to power but we don’t see BJP setting up a Bench anywhere not just in West UP but anywhere in UP even though it had promised to set up especially in West UP if it wins power both in Centre and UP! But even after one year of its completion in UP and four years in Centre, it seems determined to not allow just like Congress the creation of even a single high court bench in UP other than the one that already exists at Lucknow knowing fully well that UP has maximum population more than 22 crore as CM Yogi keeps proudly declaring every now and then, maximum pending cases in High Courts more than 10 lakhs, maximum pending cases in lower courts more than 62 lakhs, maximum PM, maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum Mayors, maximum districts, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum cities, maximum crime, maximum lawlessness which even UN secretary General Ban ki moon had slammed as the “rape and crime capital of India”, maximum riots, maximum Judges, maximum courts and what not still has just one High Court Bench created by our first PM Jawaharlal Nehru way back in 1948 at Lucknow and not anywhere else even 70 years later! This despite the fact that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had thundered in Parliament way back in 1986 as Opposition Leader demanding the creation of a High Court Bench in West UP and Yogi Adityanath who is now UP CM also himself thundered while demanding for a High Court Bench at Gorakhpur way back in 1998 right inside Parliament but 20 years later we don’t see any High Court Bench anywhere being created other than the one which Nehru created 70 years ago in 1948 at Lucknow!   

                                            The population of West UP  is more than any other state except UP of which it is itself a part and here too owes for more than half of the pending cases of UP with maximum rapes, gangrapes, killings, communal riots etc all occurring here in West UP as acknowledged by Justice Jaswant Commission and of Bihar and here too areawise West UP with 98,000 square km is more than that of Bihar with 94,000 square km but still it has not even a single Bench and same is the case with Bihar which has no bench even though it is notorious as one of the most lawless state of India! Andaman and Nicobar islands with just 3 lakh population has Bench at Port Blair, Sikkim with just 6 lakh population has High Court,  Goa with just 14 lakh population has a Bench at Panaji, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura with 27, 28 and29 lakh population have High Courts but West UP with more than 9 crore population has not even a single Bench not even a circuit Bench! Shocking!   

                              Both Centre and State of UP have miserably failed the largest population of the country by repeatedly failing to act on this by creating more Benches so that the "poor and needy people are able to avail of speedy justice at their doorsteps as envisaged in Article 39A of the Constitution! Yet they are always ready to cough up excuses and excuses for not setting up more High Court Benches in UP especially West UP where lawyers of more than 26 districts just recently went on strike for nearly 10 days in February to protest the raw discrimination meted out to the people here by not approving even a single High Court Bench here! Still should Centre not act immediately even now? Why is Centre still not serious in translating catchy slogans like "speedy justice" and "justice at doorsteps" into action in West UP, Gorakhpur, Bundelkhand and other remote areas of UP? God knows!   

                                        All said and done, unless and until more Judges are appointed in different high courts and subordinate courts, installing just Justice Clocks is simply not going to serve the requisite purpose. We are seeing for ourselves how the lawyers of Calcutta high court and Odisha high court have been on strike for a long period as most of the Judges post are lying vacant! Why have they not been filled up?

                                           Why Centre is just happy by pointing out that it has done more than what was done by UPA and appointed more judges than them? Why Centre blithely ignores that there are huge vacancies in different high courts and also in lower courts which must be filled up on a war footing? Unless this is done by filling up vacancies of judges and unless more high court benches are created in at least some big states like UP, Bihar etc, all steps like Justice Clock etc will prove to be nothing but cosmetic steps!

                                          Centre must realize that Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in whole of Asia and has maximum judges in high court as well as subordinate courts, has maximum pending cases which is more than about 10 states put together still it has just one high court bench established by Jawaharlal Nehru way back in 1948 but 70 years till now no other bench established anywhere even though Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by late former PM Mrs Indira Gandhi and headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Jaswant Singh had categorically recommended the creation of 3 high court benches in UP but not one was created even though on its recommendations benches were created at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal! Why UP keeps getting backstabbed time and again? Why politicians blatantly and very conveniently disregard the irrefutable fact that UP is the heart of India and if heart stops functioning no other organ can function properly and the whole body will have to be dumped? Is this is what Centre wants?  

                                    The population of Karnataka is just 6 crore which is 3 crore less than that of West UP still Karnataka has not just a high court but 3 more benches and West UP with 9 crore population has not even a single bench of high court! Why maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum Judges, maximum PM including Narendra Damodardas Modi, maximum pending cases all from UP still why UP has least high court benches in India just one very near to Allahabad at Lucknow and no where else? Can PM or any minister in Centre please tell me the great secret behind this even though it is UP and not Karnataka which has 3 benches or Maharashtra which has 4 benches which is slammed by former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon as “rape and crime capital” of India and here too more than half of the pending cases in UP are from West UP which tops in cases of communal violence notorious for Muzaffarnagar riots, Meerut riots, Saharanpur riots etc and also tops in all other forms of crimes? Nothing can be more shameful than this!      

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.