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Home > News > PTI

Pile-up of cases: Panel seeks separation of justice dept from home ministry

December 09, 2007 18:39 IST

As court cases continue to pile up crossing the three-crore mark, a Parliamentary Committee has recommended separation of the department of  justice from the home ministry to improve "administrative efficiency" and end judicial delays caused by shortage of judges.

The committee expressed concern that the justice department that deals with appointment of judges continues to function without a full-time secretary, affecting its functioning.

At present, the home secretary holds additional charge of the department of justice which has been performing sensitive functions pertaining to judicial appointments, service conditions of judges and the administration of justice.

A parliamentary standing committee on Law and Justice recently recommended, "The fact that there are about three crore cases pending in different courts, thus, shaking the faith of the people in the judicial system, it would be more appropriate if the department of justice is accorded a distinct identity, including strong administrative structure
of its own."

Committee chairman E M S Natchiappan suggested the change "for the sake of administrative efficiency and exigency, the Department of Justice is separated from the Home Ministry and provided with a full-fledged secretary".

The committee's recommendation assumes significance in the backdrop of Law and Justice minister H R Bhardwaj's recent statement that shortage of judges, among other factors, had added to pendency of cases across the country.

The government has been showing reluctance to the idea of a full-fledged Justice Secretary for the department despite several suggestions in this regard.
According to conservative estimates, over 37 lakh cases are pending in 21 high courts. A total of 206 posts of HC judges, out of the sanctioned vacancies of 792, are vacant.

In district and subordinate courts, over 2.7 crore cases are pending. Against a sanctioned strength of 15,399 judges, almost 3,031 vacancies are still to be filled.

The Natchiappan committee, in its report, said the government's rationale behind keeping the department of justice under the administrative control of the Home Secretary needed an urgent review.

Calling for a review of the 1971 decision to continue administrative association of the two departments, the committee said it "might have been logical at that given point of time but the situation has undergone a sea change since then".


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