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Court verdict delay violates constitutional mandate: Jurists

Delhi,Immigration/Law/Rights, Sun, 08 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Jurists have voiced concern on judges allegedly sitting over verdicts long after the conclusion of the arguments and said the practice violated the right to speedy justice guaranteed by the constitution.


Former attorney general of India Soli Sorabjee observed: "You are creating, may be out of necessity, the mafia culture" and the former chief justice of India J.S. Verma supported his view by adding that "extra legal remedies have surfaced because of judicial delays"


Delivering at a talk on 'Judicial Reforms' organised by the IC Centre for Governance here Saturday, Verma said: "There is an urgent need to translate rhetoric into action. Article 21 of the constitution provides for right to life and speedy justice."


Verma chided the judges who sit over the judgments for years together and don't pronounce them. In a tongue and cheek observation, he said perhaps these judges are too knowledgeable and find it difficult to decide either way.


He wondered if there could be any justification of a judgment not being delivered three years after the conclusion of arguments.


Recalling his days as the chief justice of India, Verma said that there were couple of judges who would not pronounce judgments after the conclusion of the arguments.


He said to tackle the problem he asked the registrar general to release a monthly report card on all the judges, citing the cases each one of them heard on the bench and the number of judgments pronounced by them.


Understandably, there were murmurs by some but eventually everything fell in place, said Verma.


He said that he told one judge that he would not be assigned any fresh matter and cause list will show him delivering judgment and he would sit in the court dictating them.


Sorabjee who chaired the meeting said that in Philippines there was a constitutional binding that every judgment should be delivered within three months and if that did not happen then the judge had to give reasons for the delay.


The senior counsel, who is also the president of the India International Centre here, said that ideally a judge, after the conclusion of the arguments, should not take more than a month to pronounce the judgment.


Advocating the listing of all the cases of similar nature before one bench, Sorabjee said that this would prevent different benches taking conflicting views.


He favoured imposing a time limit on pleadings by the counsels. "There should be a time limit to arguments," Sorabjee said.


Responding to the suggestion by former cabinet secretary Prabhat Kumar on the "necessity and desirability" of judicial over-reach in the face of "under-reach" of the legislature and the executive, Verma said it would be prudent to "compel the designated authority to do its functions instead of encroaching it and taking it over".


Cautioning that "judiciary was not competent to act in all the areas", Justice Verma said: "Just because someone (authority) has not acted, it does not have to be taken over by the judiciary."


Disapproving the Supreme Court taking over the ceiling drive in Delhi, he said the court should have looked to "compel the performance of the ceiling drive by the authority empowered to do it".


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