Judge-population ratio grossly inadequate: PM

New Delhi: Terming India’s current ratio of 15.5 judges per million people as “indeed grossly inadequate”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday urged states to take the initiative in increasing number of judges to deal with the three crore pending cases across the country.

Speaking at a conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts here, the prime minister urged chief ministers to support the initiative and assured them that the central government would “increase appropriately the quantum of funding”.

“I am conscious of the enormity of the task we face in reducing the backlog of cases and increasing the pace at which trials take place. Presently, over three crore cases are pending in various courts across the country and 26 percent of them are over five years old,” he said.

Manmohan Singh said the 14th Finance Commission would be asked to earmark funds for establishing fast-track courts for speedy trials “not just in cases involving heinous crimes but also those in which offences have been committed against the vulnerable people like the elderly, women and children”.

The prime minister said that significant progress has been made in investing courts, including the 14,249 district and subordinate courts, with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capabilities.

A National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), which would connect all courts, “will be an important outcome of this project and provide a unique platform for accessing judicial statistics on pendency on a real time basis across the country”.

The datagrid “has the potential to transform the working of the lower judiciary and to bring about major improvements in the delivery of justice to our people”, he stressed.

He said the government has set up the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms aimed to reduce pendency of cases, while the Chief Justice of India has established the National Court Management Systems (NCMS), which would develop a National Framework of Court Excellence (NFCE).

“This framework will lay down timelines and measurable standards of performance for courts on the touchstone of quality. Besides, I have been informed that, a Case Management System (CMS) will also be developed to establish user friendliness of our judicial processes,” the prime minister said.

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