Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday said the speed at which the number of pending cases is rising in various courts of the country is a matter of concern. He also said the increase in pending cases does not mean that matters are not being heard or disposed of, rather it is because the number of fresh cases is double than cases being settled daily.
Rijiju was addressing the inaugural function of the new office premises of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) Raipur bench in the Central Secretariat building, Nava Raipur Atal Nagar. "When I assumed charge as Law Minister there were around 4.50 crore pending cases (in various courts). That number has reached over 4.50 crore and will touch 5 crores. (However) it does not mean that cases are not being disposed of but the number of new cases is double the cases being settled. For example, if a High Court settles 300 cases in a day, 600 fresh cases come up for hearing".
"It is needed to closely understand this. The rate of disposal of cases has increased and the effective use of technology is helping in the speedy settlement of cases...But the speed at which the number of pending cases is increasing is worrying. Business is increasing therefore disputes are rising. If there is no business then there would be no cases. In a way, it is a positive thing but there should be some solution to the positive development," he said. Rijiju also hailed ITAT and said it has reduced its pendency of cases during coronavirus-enforced lockdowns.
Underlining that timely delivery of justice should be done, otherwise delayed justice has no value, the Union Minister said, "During my interaction with judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts I have told that we (his ministry) are ready to extend all support but it should be ensured that timely justice is delivered to people. There should be no distance between justice and common people". He said details of pending cases will be put up online. "(the details will include) the court in which the case is being heard and for how long, the reason for the pendency, the name of the concerned bench and lawyers. This will put pressure on judges and lawyers," the law minister said.
Rijiju also informed that a big proposal on e-courts is in the offing. He also emphasized the use of local languages in the court. "I get worried. I have seen since my childhood that in our country, some people who know English think they are big, smart and knowledgable. "It's good to learn English as well as other languages too. There is no loss in doing so. It has been seen in Delhi that lawyers who know good English get big cases in the Supreme Court and High Court, but those who don't know (good English), don't get cases. This is not good. You don't give them cases because they don't know English. This mentality is very bad. In tribunals, there should be a provision of translation," he said.
Union Minister of State of Law and Justice SP Baghel, Raipur Lok Sabha MP Sunil Kumar Soni, and ITAT president GS Pannu were present on the occasion. Later talking to reporters, Rijiju appealed to the Chhattisgarh government to take advantage of funds allotted to the state for the development of infrastructure for subordinate courts and help people get speedy justice. Speaking on inflation, he targetted the ruling Congress in Chhattisgarh and said the Centre has slashed excise duty on petrol and diesel twice, and similarly, the state government should take steps to control the price rise and reduce tax (VAT) on these fuels.
Queried about the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he refused to comment saying this is a serious issue and it will have to be explained in detail.