AG Venugopal on Constitution Day: Poor and middle-class most affected by judicial delays

A 1987 Law Commission of India report had stated that if Indian courts have to clear their arrears, there should be at least 50 judges per million. In 2018, it was 10 per million.

delays
KK venugopal

At the Constitution Day celebration organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) today, Attorney General for India KK Venugopal spoke from the heart about the pendency of cases and delays in the justice delivery system.

He also apprehended that the issue of pendency would only become worse once the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said,

“With Covid coming in, the Supreme Court acted and extended limitation for filing cases. But I fear once the Covid situation goes away, the pendency will become much higher.”
Venugopal cited National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) statistics to say that there are 3.61 crore cases pending in courts across India. Highlighting the issue of judicial delays, he said,
“What is extremely sad is so far as 4.29 lakh cases are concerned, they have been pending over 30 years. So a person who files a case at 50 or 60 years cannot see the fruits of his efforts. Justice delivery system cannot be one one where litigant cannot see the results of the case on which he has placed his aspirations and hopes.”

He went on to say that those less fortunate are the ones who bear the brunt of these delays.

“The rich, powerful, and corporates will not be affected by the delay. They can stick out for 30 years. But individuals from the middle class and poor, it is a daunting task to wait for 30 years. Their money and patience will be exhausted.”

The AG also cited a 1987 Law Commission of India report which said that if Indian courts have to clear their arrears, there should be at least 50 judges per million. He said,

“Back then, we had 10 per million and in 2018, we had 19 million. We should have 1.36 lakh judges instead of the 20,558 judges we have today, if we go by the Law Commission’s report. Our judges have to work long hours due to this.”

“With Covid coming in, the Supreme Court acted and extended limitation for filing cases. But I fear once the Covid situation goes away, the pendency will become much higher.”- Attorney General KK Venugopal said.

To achieve a better judge-to-population ratio, he urged the states should ensure that vacancies in subordinate courts are filled up. The Central government should in turn ensure that the states act promptly, AG Venugopal said.

Calling for a concerted effort to address the issues plaguing the justice delivery system, Venugopal said,-“Isn’t it time that all of us – Bar, judiciary, states and Central government pulled up our socks so that we are able to mitigate this terrible vacuum which is existing in our country? Else people would believe the justice delivery system is slowly collapsing.”
He ended his address on a hopeful note, saying,

“Let us collectively ensure that this aspect of justice delivery is focused so that the justice delivery system is able to wipe away every single tear from every eye.”

Also Read- Judiciary has to be unbiased and uphold Constitutional morality: Justice Kurien

The news was first published by bar and bench. 

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