New Delhi: Governments being the biggest
litigants should exercise restraint in approaching courts in
order to decongest the system and reduce overall pendency of
cases, President Pratibha Patil said on Saturday.
"Government agencies being one of the biggest litigants
must exercise restraint from routinely instituting litigation
and clogging the system," she said while inaugurating a
seminar on judicial reforms here.
Calling for efforts to ensure speedy delivery of
justice, Patil stressed on the need to re-look into the
archaic laws to make them in tune with the present
requirements, saying "making the language of law simple can
prevent unnecessary litigation".
She said there was a need to analayse challenges,
particularly the infrastructural requirements for a quick
justice delivery system and for reducing the mounting cases.
"We must take stock of the challenges and structural
weaknesses which beset our legal system impeding equitable
access to prompt and quality justice. Judicial reforms occupy
a salient place in government`s agenda," the President said.
She also voiced concern over the "explosion of
litigation" saying that current figures reveal that the
arrears in High Courts exceed 40 lakh cases, while in the
Subordinate Courts, it surpasses 270 lakh.
"Now as the Chief Justice of India has talked about
the difference between arrears and pendency in cases, I think
we will have to review these figures," she said.
Earlier, CJI S H Kapadia had made distinction between
the arrears and pendency of cases and said the calculation has
to be reviewed as there are flaws in it.
The President said the archaic laws, if needed, should
altogether be scrapped.
"There cannot be better governance without better laws
and there cannot be better laws if antiquated ones remain.
Archaic laws and outdated administrative regulations must be
scrutinized and if necessary scrapped or amended. Making the
language of law simple can prevent unnecessary litigation,"
She appealed for making the court procedures simple
and straight for speedy justice.
"We must re-engineer and simplify court procedures,
which otherwise tend to make litigation unduly slow and
protracted. Frequent demands and liberal grant of
adjournments, filing of multiple suits and similar tactics
make judicial productivity sluggish. Timely pronouncement of
judgements and quick execution of decrees would be
beneficial," Patil said.
She expressed concern over the disproportionate ratio
of population and judicial officers which was coming in way of
timely disposal of cases.
"Congestion of court cases has been compounded by
shortage of judicial manpower and low judge to population
ratio. We must explore betterment of this ratio by augmenting
the strength of the judiciary without compromising on quality.
"There is a need to act fast on other parameters.
Advance action needs to be taken to fill up existing and
prospective vacancies. Delay in the process of judicial
appointments should be avoided in the face of the huge swell
in the volume of litigation. Infrastructural improvement and
court working conditions deserve prime attention," she said.
Patil applauded the National Mission for endeavouring
to implement an Action Plan to reduce pendency of cases from
15 years to 3 years by 2012.
The recommendation of the 13th Finance Commission
granting Rs 5,000 crore to state governments to mitigate case
arrears has been accepted by the Centre. "Now, the state
governments together with the Bar and the Bench must find
innovative methods to liquidate backlogs in a time bound
manner," she said.