Court adjournments are like cancer: Vice President



Gandhinagar: Describing court adjournments as "cancer", Vice President M Hamid Ansari on Saturday said that excessive adjournments are a primary cause behind the "delay in delivering justice".

"It is sad, but true, that the litigants seek and the court grants adjournments at the drop of a hat. Adjournments have grown like cancer, corroding the entire body of the justice delivery system," Ansari said, quoting order of apex court judges.

"Reasons for delay in justice delivery are well-known. Excessive adjournments is a primary cause, while other reasons are- shortage of resources and capacity and long-winding arguments by counsel," Ansari said after inaugurating new campus of Gujarat National Law University here.

The Vice President is on a three-day visit to the state. He will be travelling to Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of Asiatic lions in the next two days.

Ansari, who shared the stage with Gujarat Governor Kamla and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, added that the Supreme Court had recently bemoaned the frequent adjournments for the flimsiest of reasons in the case Shiv Cotex vs Tirgun Auto.

Referring to justice delivery in a scenario, when the process takes two or three decades to reach finality, Ansari said that there is a pendency of over 56,000 cases in the Supreme Court, of which, around 36,000 cases are over a year old.

The pendency in High Courts and subordinate courts as on 31 December 2010 was around 3.2 crore cases, of which, around 85 lakh cases are over five years old, he said.

In many instances, it is the state that is the biggest and enduring litigator, forcing citizens and business to sustain substantive and notional losses, as cases drag on in the labyrinthine justice delivery system, Ansari said.

"The certainty of long gestation for resolution (of cases), coupled with heavy costs to sustain the legal process, has given large corporates added incentives to threaten or institute legal proceedings on civil matters," Ansari said.

It is usually individual citizens, poor and marginalised, who bear the brunt of inadequate or non-existent alternate dispute-resolution mechanism and extended judicial processes, he said.

Speaking on the issue of ethics in the legal profession, Ansari, quoting a report of Law Commission of India, said that it has presciently noted that 'the ethics of lawyers have also become questionable.'

The Commission, in its report, states that though there is a Bar Council that "has to look after the ethics of the lawyers," it has "rarely taken action against tainted lawyers," Ansari said, quoting the Commission's report.

"A mission-mode approach is proposed to improve the infrastructure of subordinate courts under the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms, which was approved by the government last year," Ansari said.

The government has also accepted the recommendations of the Thirteenth Finance Commission to provide a grant of Rs 5,000 crore to the states for improving the justice delivery system over the five year period 2010-2015, he said.

The government has begun implementing 'e-court projects', which targets to computerise 12,000 courts by March this year, Ansari added.

PTI