Expressing concern over the slow pace of justice delivery system in the country, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to formulate a policy within four weeks to speed up trial in criminal cases, saying it is not a good sign of democracy and good governance.
A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said that the solution of the problem does not lie in fast tracking one category of cases but to overhaul the entire system.
"I am sorry to say but criminal justice system is not moving at a speed which I would like to see. We need more courts and improved infrastructure," Justice Lodha said.
"Fast tracking one category of cases is not going to improve the situation. It would affect other cases. Fast tracking of justice is needed for all cases not only for one category. Ask the government to convene a meeting with the chief secretary and law secretary of states to formulate policy for speeding up the justice delivery system," he told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
He said it is for the Centre to take a decision after consulting state governments as the judiciary has no power to set up more courts for speedy trial.
"I am worried that the pace of criminal justice system is not satisfactory. I have my own limitation as the Chief Justice of India as I cannot constitute more courts," Justice Lodha said asking the Centre to respond within four weeks on what action it is contemplating for fast tracking of criminal trials.
"For good governance it is necessary that criminal justice is fast tracked. It is high time that the Centre takes steps in consultation with state government for fast tracking criminal justice system so that cases be decided expeditiously," the bench also comprising justices Kurien Joseph and R F Nariman said.
"It is not a good sign for democracy that criminal cases remain pending for years in the country," the bench said.
The apex court's view against putting one category of cases on fast track assumes significance in the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked home and law minister to draw up a blueprint for settling of cases against politicians, especially legislators, within one year.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Bhim Singh on Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails. It noted that order was passed in November 2008 to finish the trial in all such cases within a year but they are still pending even after passing of five years and eight months.
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