New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to create additional courts coupled with the necessary infrastructure that are “substantial and not just symbolic” to fast-track the criminal justice system for expeditious disposal of cases instead of lingering on for years.

Giving Attorney General Mukul Rohatagi four weeks to respond to its concerns, the Bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha suggested a meeting of law secretaries and chief secretaries of all the states to take a comprehensive look at the problem and arrive at a solution.

Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Fali Nariman were the two other judges on the Bench hearing a case of some Pakistanis languishing in jails despite completing their sentences.

The Chief Justice told the Attorney General: “You are the face of the Executive (government) before us. You are Attorney General of India. You must look at the problem and study and see that criminal justice system is fast-tracked.”

Pointing out his own limitations as CJI, Justice Lodha said: “As a Chief Justice of India, I have my own limitation. I can’t constitute courts.

The State governments too have their own limitations. Therefore, there has to be a system to fast-track the criminal justice system. The addition of new courts has to be substantial and not symbolic.”

He noted requests coming to him to set up special courts to hear some matters, but he said it could not be done at the expense of other cases getting delayed.

Asking the government to have a framework on the kind of cases that need to be fast-tracked, he said: “Within the existing system, it is not possible.

If you fast-track one category of cases, then cases of other categories suffer.”

“Criminal justice system is not moving at the pace I would like it to move….It is high time that Central government takes positive steps in consultation with the State governments in fast-tracking the criminals justice system so that criminal justice is delivered expeditiously,” said Chief Justice Lodha, adding that “cases pending for decades is not good; it needs to be done fast.”

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