New Delhi: A unique measure of establishing a judicial performance index has been suggested by Centre’s think-tank Niti Aayog, to help the high courts and its chief justices to keep track of performance and process improvement at the district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delays.
Charting this out in its three-year action agenda recently released by it, the Niti Aayog has stated that it will require fixing flexible time frames for different types of cases as broad guidelines, to benchmark when a case has been delayed.
It has added that by using existing infrastructure and data, indicators could be created to see that for how long cases have been pending. Also what percentage of cases have been delayed and how many cases were disposed off in the last year, compared to the year before.
The index can also include certain steps approved by the high courts, like burden of daily activity being removed from judges and given to administrative officials. Such an annual evaluation will help give judges in High Courts and district courts, a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.
As subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those states, the Niti Aayog has advocated.
The action plan has also batted for the creation of a repository of all existing Central and state laws and rules. It has said that at the state level, all states need to create single repository of all the existing state laws, and the rules and regulations of the various regulatory bodies and executive agencies.
The preliminary step should be to ensure that all legislation, amendments and subordinate legislation are available together in one place and can be searched through the subject matter.
Another judicial reform which the government think-tank has suggested is the introduction of an administrative cadre in the judicial system. In order to maintain judicial independence, the cadre under it will have to report to the Chief Justice in each high court.
The three-year action agenda (2017-18 to 2019-20) has also called for streamlining judicial appointments. Under this, availability of online real time judicial statistics for determining the adequacy of judicial manpower and infrastructure can be ensured, to deal with work load of cases.
This will enable priority appointment of judges, especially at the lower judiciary levels, keeping in mind a scientific approach to assess the number of judges required to deal with the pendency problem.