Traditional methods not able to decongest judiciary, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

NEW DELHI: With 80% of fresh filings in constitutional courts being criminal cases, the Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the alarming situation and said as traditional methods are unable to decongest the judiciary, “something needs to be done urgently”.

This concern was raised by a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and C T Ravikumar when senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said it has become very difficult to get Ekta Kapoor’s case listed for hearing before the Patna HC, which is deluged with bail applications and criminal appeals linked to cases under the prohibition law in the state.

The bench said, “The trial court judges are afraid of exercising their discretion to grant bail in the prevailing atmosphere where charges of bias fly thick and fast. They do not want to take the risk and adopt the safest route of dismissing bail pleas. This makes litigants rush to the high courts.

“The HCs get clogged with appeals at every stage – taking cognizance of chargesheet and framing of charges as well as bail petitions under Section 482 of the criminal procedure code.”

The situation is similar in Bombay and Allahabad HCs. Rohatgi said at least in Bombay HC, there is a procedure for getting a case urgently listed, but Patna HC has no such procedure of mentioning a case for urgent listing.

“The HCs summarily dismiss the pleas, making the litigants rush to the court. If 80% of the fresh filings are criminal cases, God only knows how to manage. If the HCs do not give reasons, we (SC) ask them to give reasons. In grant or denial of bail, reasons are not necessary,” the bench said.

Rohatgi suggested that “there needs to be a brainstorming session between Supreme Court judges and seasoned lawyers for laying down guidelines for the high courts and trial courts on dealing with criminal cases”. Justice Rastogi said he would consult the CJI on this issue. “Senior advocates must respond to the situation,” he added.

In trial courts, of the total pendency of 4.2 crore cases, 3.1 crore are criminal cases. The HCs have a total pendency of 59.5 lakh cases, of which 16.6 lakh are criminal and 42.9 lakh are civil cases.

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