HC judges to put extra hours to clear old cases
The Jharkhand High Court has chalked out a five-month plan to clear at least 35-40 percent of the old cases, including criminal appeals, and criminal revisions pending for 10 years and above by May this year.
Acting Chief Justice DN Patel has sent an action plan to the Supreme Court in this regard after the judges offered to sit beyond four o’clock every day and even on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The Acting CJ has assigned 300 cases each to three division benches headed by senior judges and 300
cases each to five single judges. Besides, the judges will also be clearing over 1,000 criminal revision cases during the period.
The judges will be clearing these cases apart from taking up the routine cases assigned to them. Hoping that the Bar will also cooperate in this endeavour, the judges have been given the liberty to adjust their timing with the help of lawyers to clear the backlog.
According to official records, the number of criminal appeals pending for over 10 years to be heard by a division bench is pegged at 3,840, and for Single bench it is 3,901. The number of old criminal revision cases i.e. cases filed for quashing the orders of the lower court as well as the FIRs are 1,329.
The Acting Chief Justice has also requested the Advocate General to assign at least two assistant public prosecutors (APPs) for every court to run the proceedings and take the cases to a logical conclusion. He has also said that if a lawyer does not appear in any case, the court will pick up lawyers from the panel of the Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority (JHALSA) to conduct the cases.
The HC special drive in the New Year will be announced in every jail across the State where the convicts are languishing for over 10 years without their appeals having been heard, so that they could contact their lawyer to take up the cases. The disposal of criminal revision cases will also expedite the trial in the lower court.
Notably, the judges’ strength in Jharkhand High Court has reached 17 against the sanctioned strength of 25 after three new judges were appointed a week’s back. The high court had already constituted special benches to be functioning on every Saturday where the lawyers are free to bring over ten years in custody cases listed for early hearing. Justice Patel said that the free legal services to the poor and other underprivileged sections of the society will be reoriented in the New Year. “Our goal is that legal aid to the poor should not be poor,” he added.
Notably, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), in a video-conference with all the State Legal Services authorities a couple of days back told them to hold legal empowerment camp instead of legal awareness camp to ensure the benefits of all the Government schemes reach the needy and poor, besides dealing with their litigations.
All the concerned government officials will also attend such camps, advertised among the people in advance. The purpose is that the legal services authority with the help of government officials will solve their problem on the spot. There might be some genuine cases where the government officials might not be able to take them to their logical conclusion. Such cases would be referred to Mediators in pre-litigation stage. If still, mediators fail to clear them, these cases will be referred to courts for judicial intervention.
“We have to ensure that people’s genuine and legal grievances are addressed within a define timeframe with a fruitful result,” Justice Patel said.
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