Thursday, April 18, 2024

Patna High Court publishes Action Plan to reduce cases pending for two- three decades in district courts

Worried about the potential erosion of public confidence in the judiciary that can arise from delays in delivery of justice, Supreme Court Committee for "Model Case Flow Management Rules for Trial Courts, District Appellate Courts , High Courts and to suggest a Plan for Reduction of Arrears in the High Courts and District Courts" has expressed concern regarding huge number of cases "which have been pending for long periods, some for over two and even three decades."

The Action Plan for managing and reducing case arrears in district judiciary incorporates the following principles:

a) Prioritization of Long-Standing Cases: Special emphasis on identifying and resolving cases that have been pending for excessively long periods, such as over 10, 20 or 30 years. 

b) Accelerating the Progression of Cases to Finalization: This principle emphasizes the urgency of moving cases towards a timely conclusion. [It involves not only prioritizing the resolution of long-standing cases,
particularly those over I 0, 20 or 30 years old, but also ensuring that newer cases do not age into these categories.

c) Equitable Case Distribution: Ensure a balanced distribution of cases among judges, taking into consideration the complexity and nature of cases, to prevent overburdening and promote efficient resolution.

d) Effective Handling of Unready and Stayed Cases: Implement strategies for expediting and managing cases that are unready or are stayed by Higher Courts.

e) Effective Utilization of Alternative Dispute Resolution: Encourage the use of mediation and Lok Adalat to resolve disputes with more effective pre-Lok Adalat sittings in old cases.

f) Use of Technology: Leverage NJDG and related tools for better case management, including case tracking systems, to enhance efficiency.

g) Managing Undated Cases: Address the issue of 'undated' cases. Implement measures to ensure that cases do not remain without a scheduled date, facilitating their timely progression and resolution.

h) Adequate Human Resources Support to Judicial Officers: Strengthen the district judiciary by providing sufficient ministerial staff support to judicial officers. This includes ensuring that courts have stenographers, and other essential staff who can assist m case management and other administrative duties.

i) Regular Monitoring and Review: Implement a system for the continuous monitoring of case progress and regular review meetings to assess the effectiveness of action plan.

j) Stakeholder Engagement: Involve bar association and agencies to address procedural delays.

k) Responsive Adaptation: Tailor strategies to meet the specific circumstances of each district, allowing for flexibility and adaptation of the action plan to local scenarios.

The 17 page long Action Plan for Arrears Reduction in District Judiciary (APAaR-DJ) states that "this situation calls for an effective approach to address the issue of delays. lt also noticed that a substantial number of cases are currently in 'unready' state for various procedural reasons, thereby delaying their resolution. Additionally, the prevalence of cases that are stayed by higher courts adds another layer of complexity to the challenge of reducing pendency."

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