New Delhi: Observing that litigants may become disillusioned if the legal process moves at a snail’s pace, the Supreme Court on Friday issued directions, including a few to the high courts, for ensuring speedy trial and disposal of old cases.
A bench comprising justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar referred to the country-wide data of the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) on pendency of cases and said joint efforts by the bar and bench were needed to tackle the issue.
“Litigants may become disillusioned when the legal process moves at a snail’s pace. We have expressed our anguish where some litigations are pending for 50 years as per NJDG,” the bench said and referred to some old cases which have not been decided for over 65 years in states like West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
Issuing as many as 11 directions, Justice Kumar said, “The time is now as justice waits for none. The requests have been made to all the chief justices of the high courts and directions are issued to the trial courts to ensure speedy justice.”
The directions, which were not read out during the pronouncement of the judgement, will be known when the verdict is uploaded on the apex court website.
“The committee constituted by the Hon’ble chief justices of the respective states shall meet at least once in two months and direct corrective measures to be taken by the concerned courts as deemed fit and shall also monitor old cases which are pending for more than five years,” it said.
The bench also directed the secretary general of the apex court to circulate the copy of the judgement to the registrar generals of the high courts for consideration and taking suitable steps.
It said lawyers are considered as “another wheel of the chariot of dispensation of justice” and “they should be circumspect in seeking adjournments that too in old matters”.
“We have noted down all statistics of pending cases… and with little anguish, we have said that this has to be addressed by both the Bar and the Bench,” Justice Kumar said.
The verdict came on a plea of Yashpal Jain who had moved the top court assailing a 2019 order of the Uttarakhand High Court in a civil dispute. The dispute which began 43 years ago in a local court there is still continuing.
The bench set aside the high court’s order and asked the lower court to decide the plea of Jain in six months.