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Haryana Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala
CHANDIGARH: Haryana has sought Centre's intervention to ensure that the State gets its own High Court.
Speaking at the regional meeting of Chief Justices, State Law Ministers, State Finance Secretaries and State Law Secretaries on implementation of recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission for improvement in delivery of justice at New Delhi on Sunday, Haryana Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala asserted: “The people of Haryana still stand deprived of their constitutional right to have their own High Court even though States like Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Uttarakhand, which came into existence years after Haryana was created, have already set up their High Courts''.
Mr. Surjewala, a lawyer by profession, suggested that the Punjab and Haryana High Court should be bifurcated into separate High Courts for the two States by dividing the existing premises, judges and staff between Punjab and Haryana in the ratio of 60:40, as was done for the Civil Secretariat and the Vidhan Sabha infrastructure.
Stressing the need for ensuring speedy delivery of justice to all, Mr. Surjewala said that information technology (IT) should be used to bring down the number of pending cases. All courts should be computerized and all subordinate courts should be linked with their respective High Courts. This would enable the administrative court (High Courts) to have a ready reckoner in the form of the exact number and status of pending cases.
“There are more than three crore pending cases in the courts across the country. The bulk of these arrears - about 2.5 crore, as we all know, are in the lower courts, and tackling that, according to me is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian judiciary,'' he added.
Taking note of the number of initiatives taken in this direction by the Union Law Ministry, including the recently announced National Litigation Policy, he said that the States should have been consulted before this policy was announced. “I say this because complex issues are involved in appeals to be filed by State governments, since some of the verdicts may have gone in favour of one State and left the other aggrieved. Judges facing probes and even impeachment proceedings, which drag on for years, are continuing in their positions. I think the governments and the top judiciary need to ponder over these disturbing developments,” he further added.
Referring to the issue of number of vacant posts of judicial officers, estimated at 3,000 in the country, he appealed to the Union Law Minister to announce a concrete action plan on how and by when would these posts be filled up. He wanted the judiciary, the Centre and State governments to tackle the issue sooner than later.
On the issue of bringing about transparency and accountability in the judicial system, Mr. Surjewala asserted that declaration of assets by judges through various websites of respective courts should be made an annual feature.
He disclosed that the Haryana Government had set up modern judicial complexes at 18 of the 21 district headquarters. Also, 30 of the 54 sub-divisions had been provided with modern judicial complexes and nine more were under construction. During the last five years, the State Government had spent Rs. 137 crore on the development of infrastructure for judiciary and works on projects worth another Rs. 96 crore were in progress. Haryana had already initiated the process of filling up 113 vacancies of judicial officers which was likely to be completed shortly. Haryana has made functional video-conferencing facilities in 32 courts and 22 jails across the State at the cost of Rs. 4.52 crore, he added.
He further disclosed that 5,475 Lok Adalats had been organised in Haryana where 11,69,165 cases had been settled, benefiting 37,982 people and involving award of compensation to the tune of Rs. 342.35 crore.
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