With courts across the country burdened with a backlog of more than three crore cases, President Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said that judiciary was yet to fully meet people’s aspirations for “speedy and affordable” justice.
“Though the Indian judiciary has many strengths, it is yet to fully meet the aspirations of our people for speedy and affordable justice,” said the President, while inaugurating the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Allahabad High Court.
President Mukherjee pointed out that there were over three crore cases pending in various courts, adding that about 38.5 lakh cases were pending before 24 high courts. He said that while the pendency of cases in the high courts had slightly declined from 41.5 lakh in 2014 to 38.5 lakh in 2015, “we still have a long way to go”.
“Overall, out of a sanctioned strength of 1056 judges in all the high courts, the working strength of high court judges throughout the country as on March 1, 2016 was only 591. Similarly, the sanctioned strength of judicial officers in district and subordinate courts in the country is about 20,500, out of which the working strength is only about 16,000 at present,” said the President.
Stressing on the need to always maintain people’s faith and confidence in the judiciary, Mukherjee said that for justice to have a meaning for the people, it must be “accessible, affordable and quick”. He said that increasing the number of courts, judges and judicial officers at all levels was the first step towards achieving the objective of timely delivery of justice.
“Justice delayed is justice denied….The governments, judges and lawyers must work hand in hand to make justice a living reality,” he said.
The President also pointed out that the high court at Allahabad had only 71 judges, including the Chief Justice, against the sanctioned strength of 160 judges.
“As many as 9,11,908 cases are pending in this court as on February 2016, a decline from 10.1 lakh cases in 2014. The pendency in subordinate courts of Uttar Pradesh is 57,06,103 as on February 29. More than 42,17,089 of them are criminal cases,” the President said.
Mukherjee said that another way to reduce the number of pending cases before courts was through widespread adoption of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms that allowed for quick and effective settlement of disputes.
He called for greater efforts to spread legal literacy across the nation and to improve the quality of legal education.