Judge faces lawyers' ire for speedy justice



Hyderabad: When a judge in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district disposed of a record 111 cases in a single day last week, little did he realise that this will attract ire from members of his own legal fraternity.

While common people have welcomed his move to ensure speedy justice, it has left a section of lawyers at Mangalgiri city civil court fuming.

Junior Civil Judge JVV Satyanarayana Murthy says he is determined to pass more judgments in bulk to provide much-needed relief to litigants. But the lawyers conveyed to him that at this speed they would turn jobless.

A group of lawyers, who earn a fee of Rs 100 to Rs 200 for each hearing, met the judge and urged him to go slow, an official of the Bar Association said.

"The lawyers told him that if he continues delivering judgments at this speed they will suffer starvation. The judge said he is acting in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code and nobody can question him. He said that litigants should not be made to suffer for the fees of lawyers," A Sanjeeva Reddy, founder president of the Mangalgiri Bar Association, said.

In the three-and-a-half months since he assumed office, Murthy has disposed of nearly 500 cases, including 111 last Thursday. The court has another 1,000 cases pending. There are an estimated 30 million cases pending in courts across the country.

Delivering speedy judgements is not new to him. He had disposed of 808 civil cases in 20 days when he was posted at Pulivendula town in Kadapa district a couple of years ago.

Earlier, Murthy won many hearts by delivering judgment in Telugu. At a time when all the judgments are delivered in English, this has come as another relief for Telugu-speaking people not well versed in English.

Murthy has won all-round praise from people in Mangalgiri, 20 km from Guntur town.

"Delivering 111 cases in a single day is not just a record in India but I believe it is a world record," said Vardhan Rao, a consumer rights activist.

The previous highest number of cases disposed of in a single day was 80 by a judge in Mumbai a few years ago.

The cases which Murthy disposed of were related to theft, street brawls, domestic quarrels and road accidents and had been pending since 2004. No one was sent to jail in any of the cases. In 78 cases where the accused confessed to the offences, the judge imposed either a simple fine or admonished the guilty.

People in Mangalgiri say Murthy has proved that an initiative by judges could help in disposing of millions of cases pending in various courts across the country. "This will restore people's confidence in the judiciary at a time when people are afraid to go to court. They are frustrated and some of them are even taking the help of anti-social elements for justice," said Vardhan Rao.

Measures like the one taken by Murthy will immensely benefit litigants, a majority of whom are farmers, agricultural labourers and people from the weaker sections of society.

"They have been roaming around the courts for years. It is a hell for them. Every day they can be seen standing in courts from morning to evening. Not knowing when they will be called, they eat ground nuts for lunch and sleep in the premises. They will be afraid of leaving the court because a warrant may be issued for them if they are not present when the case comes up for hearing," said Sanjeeva Reddy, who has been practising for 35 years.

There is a saying in Telugu that a person who climbs to the top of a hill and one who goes to a court cannot return quickly. But Murthy is showing the way.

IANS