Pendency of cases biggest challenge to legal system: CJI Dattu

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India H.L.Dattu on Thursday said that the delay in disposal of cases and their pendency was the single most challenge that confronts country’s legal system and innovative ways have to be found out to address the situation.

“If right to access justice is to remain meaningful, then it should be the disposal of cases within a reasonable time,” he said, noting that “delay (in disposal of cases) and pendency was the single most important challenge that India’s legal system is facing”.

Speaking at a function by the Supreme Court Bar Association on the occasion on the National Law Day, Chief Justice Dattu said that in 2014, the apex court had disposed off an “unprecedented” number of 83,013 cases – the highest number of cases decided by the top court in any one year.

Crediting his brother judges and the members of the bar, he cautioned against any sense of complacency saying that disposal of such a large number of cases was an unprecedented bench mark and cautioned “not to feel complacent but keep an eye on the rising number of cases because we are judged not by what we have done but what we have not done”.

Urging the lawyers to desist from taking adjournment of cases listed for hearing, Chief Justice Dattu called upon both the bar and bench to look for innovative ways of dealing with the problem of pendency.

“We can do so only by emulating the diligence of illustrious judges like Justice M.C.Mahajan, who had during a summer break as vacation judge, sat without lunch break to attend all the cases listed for the day.”

Advocating the alternate dispute redressal system for resolution of disputes, union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said that while addressing the challenge of a large pendency of cases pending before the courts from top to subordinate judiciary, efforts should be there to reduce the inflow of new cases.

“Law cannot remain static and has to evolve to meet new challenges,” he said, expressing hope that the legal fraternity would play an important role in this direction.

Urging all the stake holders to go through the constituent assembly debates, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi cautioned that “stretching the constitution beyond what it means either by the executive, judiciary, legislature, bureaucracy and also the citizens would create a problem and disorder”.

Describing the constitution as a “code” that should be followed by everyone, he said: “What will hold the country together is the constitution and the constitution alone and only this will produced an orderly growth and orderly order.”

SCBA president Dushyant Dave said that the new challenges were the “intolerance towards women and minorities”, corruption, unjust social order and denial of justice to millions and millions of vulnerable sections of society.