People will revolt against delay in justice: CJI

Bangalore: Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Saturday warned that long periods of delay in disposing of cases would lead people to "revolt" and the legal system to crumble, as he made a strong pitch for doubling the number of subordinate courts to 35,000.

"We cannot have a backlog for long periods of time... people will revolt... system will crumble," Balakrishnan said at a conference on "Alternative Dispute Resolution- Conciliation and Mediation" here.

He expressed the view that though people have confidence in the judiciary as they "feel they will get justice today or tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, how long they can wait?"

"We cannot have this much of delay at any cost. It should be reduced," Justice Balakrishnan said.

The CJI blamed fewer number of courts and a significant number of vacancies of Judges as the reasons responsible for pendency of large number of cases.

The number of courts in the country is not adequate at all, he argued. While there are posts of 16,000 judges in subordinate courts, the vacancies number 2,000.

He said the number of subordinate courts should be increased from the present 16,000 to at least 35,000. "Under any circumstances, Indian judiciary cannot work forward unless we have 35,000 subordinate courts in India".

"State Governments are not coming forward with (establishing) large number of courts," Balakrishnan said and regretted that there is no progress on the move to set up 4,000 village courts.

While India has developed in "all other areas", courts are still taking "too much time" in disposing of cases.

He stressed the role of mediation and conciliation in justice delivery system. In China, only 20 percent cases go for trial while 80 percent is settled though mediation and conciliation.

But in India, though statistics are not available, he believes not more than five percent of cases go for mediation. "We should encourage litigants (to go in) for mediation," the CJI said.

He said litigation in India is "very inexpensive", and that's why people are not going in for mediation. Justice Balakrishnan also had a dig at lawyers, citing their role in delaying the cases.

CJI steers clear of Justice Dinakaran impeachment issue

Chief Justice of India Justice K G Balakrishnan today sought to steer clear of the controversy surrounding Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, against whom an impeachment move is gaining momentum, saying he had nothing to do with it.

"I have nothing to do with that," Justice Balakrishnan responded when reporters sought his reaction on the sidelines of a conference on "Alternative Dispute Resolution - Conciliation and Mediation" here.

Asked if he had "assigned" any work to Justice Dinakaran even after the move on impeachment, he declined to comment.

The move by BJP, Samajwadi Party and Left Front to get impeached Justice Dinakaran, who is facing land-grabbing allegations, gathered momentum this week with 50 Rajya Sabha members reportedly backing it.

Justice Dinakaran was conspicuous by his absence at the conference's inaugural function, attended, among others, by Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj and Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

Asked for his reaction to the controversy surrounding Justice Dinakaran, whose elevation to the Supreme Court had been stalled following the allegations, Moily said he would not like to discuss appointments to higher judiciary in public, adding, one has to maintain discipline and exercise restraint while commenting on such matters.

Meanwhile, an angry Bhardwaj objected to the playing of "Karnataka anthem" at the beginning of the conference and directed it to be stopped, saying the national anthem should be the first, which was adhered to.