Expressing concern over the pendency of cases, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Sunday that more than two lakh cases are in courts for 25 years, while over 1,000 cases have not been disposed of even after five decades.
Speaking at a public function here, Justice Gogoi said though the judiciary faces criticism for the huge number of pending cases, it is not entirely responsible for the delay as the executive also has some responsibility in the justice delivery mechanism.
"In India, we have a little over one thousand 50-year-old cases and above two lakh 25-year-old cases," he said.
The CJI said, out of about 90 lakh pending civil cases, more than 20 lakh are at a stage where summons have not been served yet.
"This is about 23 per cent of the civil cases in the country. In criminal cases, the figure is worse. Out of 2.10 crore (pending) criminal cases, the total pendency at the summoning stage is over a crore.
"If summons have not been served, how do my judges start the trial? This is my question to the executive. The responsibility of summoning solely lies with the executive arm of the government," Justice Gogoi said.
He said out of the total pending criminal cases, about 45 lakh are petty offences.
Justice Gogoi said he had addressed the chief justices of various high courts on July 10, during which he requested them to "go after" the 50-year-old and those pending for 25 years.
He instructed Gauhati High Court acting Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami to clear such long pending cases in Assam as soon as possible.
He also expressed hope that the Centre will accept his proposal to raise the retirement age of high court judges to 65 years from the current 62.
"The immediate result - there will be a freeze of retirement for three years. In these three years, we can try and fill up the 403 vacancies by good judges. This is my dream. It should be carried out by my successor Chief Justice (of India) and I don''t see why he cannot change the face of Indian judiciary," Justice Gogoi said.
On the trial courts, the CJI said already around 4,000 posts have been filled of 6,000 vacancies and 1,500 more will be filled up by the end of this year.
"As far as the high courts are concerned, out of 1,079 posts all over the country, 403 are vacant. I have requested the chief justices (of the high courts) to send their recommendations.... Make good recommendations," he said.
In Assam and other North East states, there is no case which is 50 years old, but there are 106 cases which are pending for 25 years, Mr Gogoi said.
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