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Gujarat will be first state to set up evening courts

By Staff
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Ahmedabad, Feb 26 (UNI) For the first time in the country, Gujarat will set up evening courts to clear the large number of pending cases and to expedite the justice delivery system.

State Law Minister Ashok Bhatt said a budgetary sanction has been made for the purpose in Chief Minister Narendra Modi's maiden budget, which was presented on Friday.

The first such court will come up in Vadodara sometime in mid-March, and soon it will be replicated all over the state, he told UNI.

Stating that these courts can for a start, try petty cases, Mr Bhatt said, adding that it would mean the poor people would not have to abstain work (and lose day's wages) to attend the court proceedings.

When asked, if the move would put a strain on the judicial set up, he said the suggestion on evening courts had come from the judiciary itself. ''An action plan drawn by a Gujarat High Court body had first come up with this suggestion to clear the backlog of cases,'' he said.

A total of 572 new judges have been appointed in the state in the past year, he pointed out.

The Chief Minister too had taken up the issue at the CMs-Chief Justices meet in New Delhi, Mr Bhatt added.

Giving details about pendency of cases, the Minister said at least 41 lakh cases were pending in 2004-5, which will come down to 35 lakh by the end of 2005-6.

''With evening courts in place, the pendency figures will definitely come down,'' he stressed.

Elaborating on the measures taken by his ministry to expedite the delivery of justice, he said 5,000 lok adalats were set up last year itself, taking the total number of such adalats to 50,000. A total of 166 fast track courts are already functioning, he added.

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