The central government Thursday told the Supreme Court that it would amend the terms of reference of the 19th Law Commission to include that it would conduct a scientific study and recommend if there was need to increase the number of lower courts in view of the huge backlog of cases.
The court was also told that the government was considering giving statutory status to the commission so that its recommendations became binding.
“There is a move to make statutory provision to make Law Commission a statutory body so that its recommendations are binding,” Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval told the court.
The apex court bench of Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice T.S. Thakur earlier asked Raval if there was a study by which it could be gauged the average number of cases a court hears.
The court was told this in the course of the hearing of a petition seeking the reduction in the arrears of cases.
The court observed that, on one hand, there was talked of reduce the pendency while, on the other hand, there was no data of national average of cases a judge dealt with in a day.
The court told Raval that “some one other than your bureaucratic set up” should look into as “what should be the standard for setting up the new courts to deal with the pendency of cases”.
Justice Thakur said: “They (Bureaucrats) have not done it in last 60 years. They will not do it even today.”
Let a retired judge of apex court, who knows the system and its working, do the job, Justice Thakur said.
He asked Raval “how many cases a judge can handle in a perfect ideal situation where a judge is willing, hardworking, trained fully, well equipped and efficient”.
“It is not possible,” the court said, when Raval, speaking from his own experience, said that in a perfect ideal situation a judge can handle about 110 cases in a day.
Justice Ganguly found the figure unacceptable when he said that a court functions for five hours and that means a judge would take three minutes to hear a case.
“If petitioner and respondent are given 10 minutes each and judge himself takes 10 minutes in dictating order then each case would take about 30 minutes.”
Having said this Justice Ganguly said that a judge could decide 25-30 cases a day.
Justice Thakur said that “if you decide 110 cases by the flip of the coin even then 50 percent cases will be upheld by the courts above” because the verdict would either be this way or the other way.
Earlier in the course of the hearing, the court took exception to the long delays of 300-400 days that the governments took in filing appeals challenging the lower courts’ verdicts and orders.