BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 28: Frivolous and meaningless litigations are consuming unnecessary court time leading to judicial delays in important cases, Supreme Court Judge Justice Ranjan Gogoi said today, favouring monetary pelties on such "senseless" litigants.
Highlighting that there are 65,000 pending cases in the Supreme Court, 44 lakh in the 24 High Courts and 3 crore in the subordite courts, Justice Gogoi said a majority of the such cases are frivolous in ture.
Citing an example, he said several bail petitions were moved by Sahara chief Subroto Roy and every time the application was accompanied with a prayer for a change in the bench. “The Sahara case consumed 83 days of the Supreme Court besides several hundred judge hours (time taken to write the orders),” Justice Gogoi said while delivering a talk on the ‘Challenges faced by Indian Judiciary’ at Rabindra Bhawan here.
Due to the pressure of such frivolous cases, he said, deserving cases get delayed. He quoted a Bombay High Court observation that a “resourceful litigant can keep cases pending” for very long.
According to him, the legislature should frame laws with provisions that anyone who initiates and continues litigation senselessly, pays for the same. “And the costs should be made prohibitive to act as a deterrent.”
“The reasons for judicial delays should be understood, not for the justification of the reason, but for addressing them,” Justice Gogoi said.
He pointed out that in many countries, one cannot go to the court directly.
“The court is a resort only in exceptiol cases and depending on the intrinsic merit of the case,” he said.
Referring to another challenge, he pointed to the shortage of judges and said, “In 1987, the judge to population ratio was 10 per million. The Law Commission that year had recommended enhancement of the ratio to 50 per million in 1992 and 107 in 2000. But, today the ratio is 14 judges per million.”
Besides, he said, there are 250 seats vacant in the High Courts and 4,000 courts are vacant at district level.
“Going by the pattern of cases, there will be 15 crore pending cases in 2040 and this will require 75,000 judges. Is the government prepared to bear the fincial burden? I doubt it,” he said.
Justice Gogoi suggested optimum use of the available manpower and infrastructure resources.
“For example, why can’t we send the summons over fax or email? Some courts have already done it. It should save a lot of time. The length of the proceedings should be reduced without compromising on jurisprudence and principles. We can also fix the time limit for oral arguments and insist on written arguments,” he suggested.
In case of crimil cases, Justice Gogoi felt that the set of compoundable cases should be expanded so that the concept of “plea bargaining” can be applied more. In case of plea bargaining, the accused of a lesser crime comes and admits his crime and the judge disposes the cases accordingly, generally by commuting his punishment.
“But this concept is not known to many people,” he rued.
Justice Gogoi also suggested “shedding of the fats” from the judgements. “It should be understandable to the common man. No point writing long orders,” he said.
He also said that the modern day litigations – like those involving commercial transactions, intellectual property rights, taxation etc – are becoming increasingly diverse, complex and innovative.
“It is a challenge. Therefore, we need judges of outstanding ability and merit,” he added.
Earlier, Justice Gogoi iugurated a book titled ‘Justice Shafiqul Haque: Reflections and Juridicial Thoughts’ edited by Dr Stuti Deka.
The programme was organized by the Justice Shafiqul Haque Memorial Initiative in memory of the former acting Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court. Dr Taufiqur Rehman Borbora delivered the welcome address at the function which was chaired by Justice DN Choudhury.