June issue 2009
While dealing with the issue of expeditious disposal of cases, the committee divided its recommendations into three categories: short-term measures in criminal and civil cases and long-term measures.
Short-Term Measures for Criminal Cases
While dealing with this category, the committee directed that:
- For bail matters, notice to the State should be served within three days, and the IG police should ensure the service and compliance of notice within the stipulated time.
- Bail applications with a photocopy of the FIR authenticated by the counsels should be accepted, and judicial officers should call for a record of the case from the police on his/her own.
- Bail applications should be decided by the magistrate within three days.
- All cases of bail after arrest should be decided by the high courts, preferably within seven days.
- All criminal cases punishable with imprisonment from one to seven years, registered effective January 1, 2009, may be kept on fast track for disposal within three months; and cases punishable with imprisonment of seven years and above, including death cases, should be decided preferably within a period of six months.
- All cases relating to preventive detentions should be decided within 15 days; and miscellaneous applications, such as applications for transfer of cases, release of vehicles on superdari and those arising out of interim orders should be decided within three days.
- Being presented before the court for remand and trial is the right of every prisoner. The district and sessions judges have, accordingly, been ordered to ask the jail authorities to ensure the production of prisoners before the court on each date of the hearing. They have also been directed to monitor that all requisite procedural formalities are complied with. While granting remand, no judge should grant remand in the absence of the accused, and should strictly adhere to the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure and principles laid down in the Hakeem Mumtaz case (PLD 2002 SC 590).
- Non-completion of investigation and non-submission of challans within the statutory period is a major cause of delay. Consequently, the district police officers have been asked by the committee to ensure that the investigation be completed, and the challan submitted within the prescribed period of 14 days. The SHOs who fail to comply should be treated as inefficient under the police order. The DPOs have also been asked by the committee to submit to it, lists of cases in which challans remain pending.
- Many convicts, including women, are languishing in jails due to non-payment of diyat and fines, in some cases even after completing their entire sentence. The courts have been directed to collect details of such cases, and to suggest all possible measures for their release, including releasing them on bail.
- In criminal cases, non-representation of the accused by the counsel is sometimes a factor in the delayed disposal. The chief justices of the provincial high courts have been asked to appoint lawyers in such cases, in consultation with the chairman of the Legal Aid Committee of the provincial bar councils.
- To check the tendency of filing false and frivolous cases, the court should take penal action against the party by imposing fines under section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code, or file complaints under section 182 and 211 PPC.
- The courts should use the Probation of Offender Ordinance 1960 and the Good Conduct Prisoners Probation Release Act 1926.
- All murder, narcotics, and terrorism-related trials, and cases where women or juveniles are accused, should be disposed off as quickly as possible.
- To clear the backlog under different categories, special benches should be constituted at the principal seat and branch registries of the supreme court, and the high courts.
Short-Term Measures to Expedite Civil Suits
While dealing with this category, the committee recommended that:
- A writ petition on institution should be fixed for katchi peshi on the next day. Writ petitions involving service disputes or admission of students, should be decided, preferably within 60 days.
- All stay matters should be decided within 15 days of grant of interim injunction, and in case of delay, the judicial officer should report reasons to the concerned chief justice of the high court through the registrar.
- The rent cases must be decided speedily within a period of 30 days; and appeals, writ petitions, and other related petitions should be decided within 90 days.
- All revision petitions under the Code of Civil Procedure should be decided within three months.
- Family cases should be decided within three months and appeals arising from such suits should be decided within 30 days.
- Banking and tax cases should be preferably decided within six months.
- Trial of current cases (instituted after January 1, 2009) should be completed within six months. However, cases involving negotiable instrument, such as checks should be decided in 90 days.
- Priority should be given to quick disposal of cases involving women, children, rental matters, stay orders, bail matters and minor offences.
- In the Supreme Court and the high courts, priority should be given to old cases and all such old cases should be decided within a year.
- The district judges should adopt measures which ensure handling of 50% of cases from the backlog (filed on or before December 2008) and 50% of the current ones.
- Civil and criminal functions of the court should be bifurcated so that the judges can try criminal and civil cases exclusively; and for fuller comprehension of civil and criminal law and experience, such judicial officers may be periodically rotated.
Long-Term Measures for Expeditious Disposal
Directions with regard to this category include:
- Periodic inspection of prisons by the high court judges, and provision of on-the-spot relief.
- Increasing the strength of judicial officers.
- Provision of necessary funds by the respective governments for infrastructural support, including construction of courtrooms, and amenities for lawyers and litigants.
- Filing of certificate by the advocate, stating he/she will appear on notice by the court in the case and will ensure his/her presence on the date of the hearing. In case the advocate does not appear, he must arrange for some other lawyer to appear on his/her behalf to conduct the case, failing which he will be responsible for the consequences.
- Filing of complaints with the police complaints authorities and District Public Safety Commissions, established under the Police Order 2002, so that they hear cases of misuse of authority, dishonest investigation, negligence and inefficiency.
- Removal of disparity in salaries, and allowances of the judicial officers between Punjab and other provinces.
This article appears as a box within Long Time Coming