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`Fix time limit for disposing cases'

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has directed the High Courts to formulate rules for fixing a time limit for disposal of civil and criminal cases so that the huge backlog of cases pending for years could be cleared expeditiously.

A three-judge Bench, comprising Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari and Justice Tarun Chatterjee, also wanted the courts to segregate the cases in different tracks on the basis of their nature, quantum of evidence and time likely to be taken by subordinate courts at trial stage and high courts on appeal for final order.

It indicated that civil suits for maintenance, divorce, child custody, visitation rights, grant of letters of administration and succession certificate, rent and eviction would be put in track one, while all money suits based solely on negotiable instrument law, would be put in track two. Track three would include suits for partition, property disputes, trademarks, copyrights and intellectual property matters whereas all remaining civil cases would be bracketed in track four.

Ruling on a petition filed by the Salem Bar Association, it said: "Efforts shall be taken to complete hearing of track one and two matters in nine and 12 months respectively and those in track three and four within 24 months." It has restricted the number of adjournments to three that too with some solid reasons.

It also said: "If the trial judge was of the view that any of the parties or witnesses have wilfully and deliberately uttered blatant falsehood, he shall consider (at least in some grave cases) whether it is a fit case for launching prosecution for perjury."

If there was any inconsistency between the rules suggested and the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code or any other statute, the provisions of the CPC, Cr.P.C. and the statute would prevail.

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