The courts in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India continue to be clogged with cases, the majority of them long-pending ones. As per the available data, between February 1 and August 31 this year, the Supreme Court has seen a 3.6% rise in pending cases to 62,054. The pending cases in high courts has risen 12.4% to 51.5 lakh while district and subordinate courts, too, saw a 6.6% increase to 3.4 crore cases. It is not the case that efforts have not been made to liquidate the burgeoning docket. Over the years, many plans were chalked out to streamline the system of disposal of cases in the courts.
In this endeavor, J&K high court had set targets to be met periodically. Status reports or information was to be submitted by the concerned Judicial Officers from time to time. For lack of data, it is not known how much pendency was taken care of.
The pandemic on account of the covid-19 has surely affected the routine. Rather, it added new challenges.
Soon after taking over, the acting Chief Justice chalked out an Action Plan to deal with the pendency of cases.
All civil suits etc filed on or before March 2014 are sought to be disposed of by September 30, 2021. In addition, several oldest Executive Petitions are targeted to be disposed of. Together, all these steps are practical towards achieving the target of lessening the pendency burden and to provide the much longed for relief to the parties to the suits.
Significantly, there are provisions and arrangements for deciding corruption cases looked after by Special Courts as also by courts set up for offenses against women, under NIA Act, under POCSO etc and the cases with variant pendency periods to be accorded priority with intent to dispose of within fixed timeline.
Any strategy or an Action Plan to streamline the process requires proper monitoring and follow-up. While there is a need for filing periodic status and progress reports to meet the targets under the Action Plan, the government has a role. There has been grossly inadequate judge strength and the same must increase. It is imperative that for justice and the rule of law to seem meaningful to the people, the government must play its part efficiently. There are numerous reasons attributed to the executive for the pendency of cases and all of them need to be taken seriously and addressed in a time-bound manner.