Fighting cases pendency and leave for judges

In order to tackle a large case pendency choking the wheels of justice delivery, Chief Justice of State High Court Justice Gita Mittal has issued new directions to all the Principal and District Sessions Judges that Judicial Officers should proceed on leave only in unavoidable emergency cases. New strategy and approach to fight huge pendency of cases in the courts seems to have set in motion in Jammu and Kashmir exactly on the lines of the Supreme Court of India where the Chief Justice of India has formulated a “no leave” formula for judges during working days of courts to ease the number of cases pending in the Apex Court. The order states that the judicial officers in Jammu and Kashmir shall not proceed on leave unless there was an “unavoidable emergency” and in no event, the judicial officers should proceed on LTC/HTC during working days.
Not only this, one more much desired step has been taken in that “Daily Work Done ” statement is proposed to be sought from the courts to judge the performance of the judicial officers. This statement is to be furnished to the Registrar Vigilance who in turn would place the same before the concerned Administrative Judge for evaluation and consideration. It may be noted that pendency of cases in the courts has reached alarming levels as per the latest figures and Data obtained in this regard and many a time “Excelsior” through these columns, has suggested the need to walk an extra mile and the need to review vacations too which could go a long way in fighting tsunami of court cases pending delivery of justice. Hence, the steps proposed to be taken by the Chief Justice of the High Court would go a long way in bringing about an overall improvement in the situation.
We cannot afford to harp only on the shortage of judicial officers which, of course, is a fact , to be the cause behind the cases remaining in so much a measure in arrears and must evolve the principle to work , at times, overtime and minimise as much as possible, the courts remaining without judicial officers except in emergencies on workdays. According to the Chief Justice, more steps were required to be initiated to reduce the pendency of cases to the desired levels hence issuing of new directions. Physical verification of all the cases pending in respective courts by judicial officers has been ordered and thereafter, the Principal District and Sessions Judges shall furnish a consolidated statement of respective districts to the High Court.
The new directions are aimed at making the judicial officers accountable in the process of the main problem of pendency of cases and judging their performance which will have a larger impact on the confidence in and hopes of the litigants in particular and the people in general associated with the judicial system in the country. Deciding and disposing of the cases in a reasonable period of time is what is expected from the justice delivery system and, therefore, the measures proposed to be taken are commendable, much desired and people friendly. With reference to Jail Appeals, the Chief Justice has directed the Registrar Judicial to prioritize the listing of Jail Appeals. These are cases pertaining to those in custody and the same are proposed to be taken up ahead of other cases on the hearing days with proper noting of FIR No and the time spent in jail by the under trial. Along with these administrative measures and improvements in the system expected, it is also imperative to improve the existing infrastructure in the courts.