He, however, said the government was making efforts to bring down the number of cases and has adopted a multi-pronged strategy in this regard. "We achieved a net reduction in pendency of over 6 lakh cases in the country last year and we have set a target of reduction in pendency by over 20 lakh this year," he said.
Addressing a conference on the judicial system in Chandigarh he said that under the Gram Nyayalayas Act, efforts were being made to speed up appointment of judicial officers so that disputes at the block level, which do not pertain to serious offences, are settled at the earliest. This will not only save time and money of the people but also restore and strengthen their faith in the justice delivery system, he said.
Faith in the system is core of the problem. Ideal numbers are 50 judges per million population but India has only 11 judges to decide on disputes of a million people. Human beings do quarrel and will go to any length to establish their point of view. In such a scenario, litigation cannot be avoided and the best solution is to resolutely resolve the dispute.
A beginning has to be made at the grassroots level like changing the mindset on the host of issues as Indians have a tendency to litigate, without reflecting on the situation.
In the event of dispute, there should be alternative solutions and 'out-of-court' settlements.
Also consider the suggestion made by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. "When law suits become inevitable, it has to be ensured that justice is delivered within a reasonable time. Request for frequent adjournments increase the period of litigation. The bar must consider developing a self-regulatory mechanism for discouraging this tendency and for counselling both, the lawyers and clients, to preclude adjournments, except in unavoidable circumstances," she had said last year.
Why reforms in judicial system and society required? Consider these numbers: Nearly 50,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court and more than 4 million cases in the High Courts and over 27.5 million cases in subordinate courts are awaiting disposal.
On a hypothetical note, it will take over 300 years to clear pending cases even if the courts go on the fast track mode to hear the backlog. Do we have such luxury of three centuries of wait?