New Delhi: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said the number of pending cases across various courts could touch the five crore mark in a couple of months.
In another development Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday proposed a pilot project to implement a judicial system in Delhi under which court cases are disposed of within six months, while asserting that his government is ready to ensure that such a system becomes an example for other states.
Law minister expresses concern over huge pendency
Expressing concern over the issue of pendency, he said while such cases are likely to come down in the Supreme Court and high courts, the "real challenge" is in the lower courts.
Addressing an event at the Delhi High Court in the presence of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, the minister said the number of pending cases is inching towards the five crore mark and flagged the issue of inadequate infrastructure in lower courts.
Till a few months back, the pending cases were estimated at 4.83 crores.
"I try to analyse about the bottleneck when we take the numbers. It is inching towards the five crore pendency. It is a matter of great concern," he said.
Rijiju said he has to reply on the pendency issue in Parliament and elsewhere.
"It is really difficult for me to answer ... it is about to reach five crore. At the present rate, maybe it will take another couple of months to reach the five crore figure, which does not sound nice," he said.
The majority of the cases are pending with the subordinate judiciary.
"I feel the pendency in the SC and the HCs will come down, but the real challenge is in the lower courts. The infrastructure in the lower courts is a real challenge for me and that is the responsibility of the central government and the state governments together," he said.
Rijiju said he clearly sees that in the very near future, the Indian judiciary will go paperless.
A digital judiciary will have a huge impact on the justice delivery mechanism, he underlined.
He said the judicial process is time-consuming. However, once all documents are available at the click of a button, things will become faster.
The Delhi development on pendency
Kejriwal was speaking at an event organised for the inauguration of the 'S' block building of the Delhi High Court.
On Kejriwal's proposal, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri who was present at the event said that if the CM's purpose was to seek an ally, the Centre and the lieutenant governor of Delhi will support him in his endeavour.
The event was also attended by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, and Delhi High Court Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma.
"If the purpose was to seek an ally, I think the lieutenant governor of Delhi and the Centre will support you in the endeavour to get more space. By the way, land is a state subject, so the chief minister you made promises today, we will hold you responsible to those," Puri said.
The housing and urban affairs minister said that "the opportunity was not lost", without divulging the reference.
However, on a lighter note, Puri offered to Kejriwal to rebuild 299 slum clusters that come under the city government's Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) if the AAP dispensation is unable to do so because 367 clusters under the DDA, which comes under the Centre, are being surveyed for rebuilding.
Puri also went on to say that he did not need to be told by someone about the condition of courts as he has grown up here.
Speaking at the event, Kejriwal put forth a proposal to implement a pilot project in Delhi wherein cases are disposed of within six months.
"You see such a site rarely that the Centre, judiciary, Delhi government are all present together on one stage. I would like to put forth a proposal on behalf of the common man," he said.
While noting that people go to courts for seeking justice, he said that several committees and studies have said that procedures and rules have to be changed for ensuring timely delivery of justice.
"I am not pointing fingers... but I just want to propose that let's make Delhi a pilot wherein despite a case being civil or criminal, it should not go on beyond six months. It should be disposed of within a few days, but the least is that it should be disposed of within six months. Let's make a proposal," the chief minister said.
He said that if this can happen, the government is ready to volunteer.
"We can all sit together and prepare a proposal to make Delhi a pilot project for this. We have worked in education, health, and power sectors... our work is being praised. We hope that such a judicial system becomes an example for the country and the world," he stressed.
Recalling various events related to inauguration of judicial facilities, Kejriwal said that he had gone to the inauguration of a building at the Karkardooma Court Complex recently.
"At the event someone had jokingly said that Hindi films often show courtrooms in a dilapidated condition but after the inauguration of such facilities, it seems that Hindi films will have to modify their film sets," he recalled.
Delhi's judicial system is one of the best in the country: Kejriwal
Asserting that the infrastructure of Delhi's judicial system is one of the best in the country, the Delhi CM said previous governments also worked in improving it and his government is also working to improve it.
"Though there are less resources, our priority is the judiciary," he added.
When his turn came to speak at the event, Puri said that "the opportunity was not lost", without divulging the reference.
"If the purpose was to seek an ally, I think both the chief minister and the lieutenant governor of Delhi. All three of us will support you in the endeavour to get more space. By the way, land is a state subject, so Chief Minister you made promises today, we will hold you to those," Puri said.
Puri said he wanted to place on record that he appreciated that kind of advocacy, saying that when he is invited to participate in the inauguration of any of building which conforms modern or reflects modern sustainability norms, modern yardsticks of efficiency and it stands to reason if the higher courts are housed in buildings of this kind,the productivity level will go up.
"Arvind Kejriwal ji, of course, made a speech which I can always relate to... he is a close friend of mine. So, he said he is very proud of his Delhi, the education model, the health model and he also said he wants to make Delhi a pilot judicial model," he said.
The Union minister said that according to the 2011 census, the population of Delhi was 1.67 crore and it may be about two crore now.
"Now, large parts of Delhi are being rebuilt and the people who live in JJ (slum) clusters, I mean that there are around 367 of them under the DDA and they all are being surveyed and rebuilt under 'jahan jhuggi wahin makan'.
The number of the ones which are under DUSIB (which comes under Delhi government) is 299. I will suggest to the chief minister that he should also conduct a survey. By the way, I offered him that if you are not, we want to do it, that is on a lighter side," the housing and urban affairs minister said.
The budget front of Delhi
Kejriwal also said that his government has tripled the budget for the judicial facilities in the last seven years of its tenure.
"When our government was formed, the budget in the financial year 2013-14 for the judiciary was Rs 500 crore and last year it went to Rs 1,500 crore," he said.
Kejriwal said that his government is trying to fulfil the demands of the judiciary.
"The independence of the judiciary will exist only when there are sufficient funds. Our intention is to give the judicial system maximum funds and I want to assure that within our limited resources we will make funds available," he added.
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