Compliance to be touchstone for assessment of judicial performance
Registrar Vigilance to submit quarterly reports to CJ
JAMMU, Sept 6: Acting on the explicit directions of the Supreme Court albeit after a delay of one and half year, State High Court has fixed timelines for all the courts across Jammu and Kashmir for conclusion of trials in criminal cases to effectuate the mandate of the fundamental right under Article 21 especially with regard to the persons in custody.
Moreover, adherence to these timelines shall be the touchstone for assessment of judicial performance in annual confidential reports and Registrar Vigilance of the High Court shall submit quarterly compliance reports to the Chief Justice.
Sources in judiciary told EXCELSIOR that while deciding criminal appeal titled Hussain and Another Versus Union of India on March 9, 2017, the Supreme Court had felt it imperative to pass directions for initiating steps by all the concerned across the country to effectuate the mandate of the fundamental right under Article 21 especially with regard to the persons in custody.
“Each High Court is required to frame annual action plan fixing a tentative time limit for subordinate courts for deciding criminal trials of persons in custody and other long pending cases and monitor implementation of such timelines periodically”, the Apex Court had said, adding “hardship faced by witnesses if their evidence is not recorded on the day they are summoned or impact of delay on under-trials in custody on account of such avoidable interruptions of court proceedings is a matter of concern for any responsible body of professionals and they must take appropriate steps”.
Issuing a set of directions to all the High Courts for strict compliance, the Apex Court had stated: “Judicial as well as legal services are not like any other service and they are actually missions for serving the society. The mission cannot be achieved if the litigant who is waiting in the queue doesn’t get his turn for a long time”.
Acting on the directions of the Supreme Court albeit after a long delay of one and half year, the State High Court has fixed timelines for all the courts across Jammu and Kashmir for conclusion of trials in the criminal cases.
“All the courts are impressed upon to dispose of bail applications normally within one week”, read the Circular No.91-A issued by Sanjay Dhar, Registrar General of the State High Court yesterday.
The courts have also been directed to conclude Magisterial trials where accused are in custody normally within six months and Sessions trials where accused are in custody be concluded normally within two years. The courts have further been asked to make efforts to dispose of all the cases which are five years old by the end of the year.
“The courts shall release on personal bond the under trial who has completed period of custody in excess of the sentence likely to be awarded if conviction is recorded and to make such an assessment from time to time”, the Registrar General said in the circular.
In order to ensure that these timelines are strictly adhered to by all the courts across the State, the High Court has made it clear that these time-limits shall be the touchstone for assessment of judicial performance in annual confidential reports.
Moreover, the Registrar Vigilance, State High Court has been assigned the task of monitoring the implementation of the circular and submission of quarterly reports in this regard to the Chief Justice of the State.
It is pertinent to mention here that Apex Court had explicitly mentioned in the judgment that High Courts shall monitor steps for speedy investigation and trials on the administrative and judicial side from time to time for speeding up disposal of cases of under-trials pending in subordinate courts and appeals pending in the High Courts.
Thrust has also been laid on timely serving of summons on witnesses and accused, timely filing of charge-sheets and furnishing of copies of charge-sheets to the accused.