Mohan Lal Vs. Union of India & Others  Insc 212 (31 March 2005)
Sinha & S.H. Kapadia
[T.C. (C) No.23/2001, SLP (C) No.7870/2001, SLP (C) No.10645/2001 AND W.P. (C)
No.140/2005] The Fast Track Courts Scheme was recommended by the XIth Finance
Commission for setting up 1734 Courts to dispose of long pending cases,
particularly on the criminal side in the subordinate judiciary. In that regard,
Rs.502.90 crores was allocated. The allocations recommended by the XIth Finance
Commission covered the period 2000-01 to 2004-05.
affidavit dated 8th
July, 2004 filed on
behalf of Union of India, this Court was informed that the matter of
continuation of the above Scheme beyond five years has been taken up with XIIth
Finance Commission. By the said affidavit, this Court was further informed that
the Law Ministry had written a letter on 17.4.2003 to the Chairperson of the XIIth
Finance Commission to favourably consider the proposals for the upgradation of
judicial infrastructure including continuation of Fast Track Courts Scheme and
also for creation of another 1500 Fast Track Courts of Magistrates for dealing
with non-sessions cases and other criminal matters.
further affidavit was filed on behalf of Union of India on 13.10.2004 by which this
Court was further informed that in the joint conference held at Vigyan Bhawan,
New Delhi on 18.9.2004, attended by Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, it was
resolved that Fast Track Courts Scheme be continued for a period of five years
beyond 31.3.2005 and that Fast Track Magistrate Courts on similar lines be
period of five years in terms of the said Scheme comes to an end on 31.3.2005.
Till 28.3.2005, when the matter came before us, there was no indication as to
whether the Fast Track Courts Scheme would continue beyond 31.3.2005. In the
circumstances, we called upon the learned Solicitor General to look into the
matter and inform the Court by 30.3.2005 as to whether the said Scheme would
continue beyond 31.3.2005.
learned Solicitor General stated before us that although the Union of India was
keen to continue the Scheme, no financial sanction has been accorded by the XIIth
Finance Commission. The learned Solicitor General of India, however, stated
that out of the sanctioned allocation of Rs.502.90 crores, till date the amount
disbursed is Rs.420.03 crores leaving an unspent amount of Rs.82.87 crores,
lying with the Central Government.
accused are entitled to speedy justice in terms of Article 21 of the
Constitution of India. The question has been raised as to whether the State can
deny its obligation to set up such number of courts as are necessary for
fulfilling its constitutional obligation on the ground of financial constraints
or otherwise. In this connection, it is relevant to note that in terms of the
Annual Report of the Ministry of Law for the year 2003-04, the total number of
pending cases runs into the figure of 2.27 crores (approximately).
in the year 2000, the XIth Finance Commission had allocated Rs.502.90 crores
under Article 275 of the Constitution to set up 1734 courts.
allocation stipulated time bound utilization. Suffice it to state at this stage
that the funds have been utilized effectively. We have examined the statistics
and the status reports submitted by the States which indicate success of the
Scheme and time bound utilization of funds. Therefore, the question which
arises for determination before us is of importance. Is it open to the State
not to fulfill its obligation with regard to speedy justice on the basis of
financial crunch, particularly when the judge- population ratio of
judges per 10 lakh people in India is the
root cause for huge backlog of undecided cases.
case of All India Judges' Association & others v. Union of India &
others reported in (2002) 4 SCC 247, this Court has held that an independent
and efficient judicial system is one of the basic structures of our
Constitution and if sufficient number of judges are not appointed, justice
would not be available to the people, thereby undermining the basic structure.
In the said judgment, it has been observed that the expense on administration
of justice in the States is incurred by the respective States. It is for the
States to approach the Finance Commission or Union of India for more allocation
of funds. In the conference held on 18.9.2004, the States have agreed to
continue the Scheme for a further period of five years beyond 31.3.2005.
be seen from the above facts, this Court has been repeatedly assured that the
said Scheme will continue beyond 31.3.2005. The said Scheme has two components,
namely, financial and infrastructural. Having introduced the Scheme under which
Fast Track Courts have become operational, the Scheme should not be disbanded
all of a sudden. Judges have been appointed at Fast Track Courts from three
sources, viz., by way of promotion, direct appointment from advocates and
retired District Judges. If the entire Scheme has to be disbanded now, a chaos
will be created inasmuch as not only services of several officers who had been
promoted on an adhoc basis will have to be reverted to their substantive post.
Similarly, if corresponding promotion had been given to others, it will be
necessary also to pass orders of reversion in such cases. Thousands of cases
are pending adjudication before Fast Track Courts and some of them might have
been heard in part. Witnesses in many cases might have been summoned.
State Governments have also appointed Special Public Prosecutors. The
requirements to continue the Scheme, furthermore, may vary from State to State.
In some States, there may not be many session cases pending requiring
continuation of the Scheme, as earlier proposed. In some States, the
requirement may not be of such magnitude to appoint the number of officers
specified in the earlier Scheme. All these questions must be worked out and the
views of the respective State Governments should also be ascertained.
stated above, speedy justice is an obligation of the State. As held in the case
of All India Judges' Association & others (supra), administration of
justice is a State subject. Therefore, maintenance of Fast Track Courts has to
be looked after by the States. They cannot disown their responsibility of
providing speedy justice by pleading financial crunch. At the same time, we
expect Union of India and the States to treat this venture as a joint-venture,
particularly in providing funds to the States.
expected the Scheme to continue beyond 31.3.2005 as we were repeatedly assured
that the Scheme would continue. We cannot allow the Scheme to be disbanded
suddenly. We, therefore, direct Union of India to continue the said Scheme for
a period of one month pending hearing and final disposal of Writ Petition (C)
No.140 of 2005 & other cases. For the said purpose, we direct that the said
unspent amount of Rs.82.87 crores lying with the Central Government will not
lapse on 31.3.2005 and the disbursement under the said Fast Track Courts Scheme
(including the salary payable to the Judges and other staff) shall continue as
in the past in accordance with the terms and conditions of the said Scheme.
This order shall, however, be subject to any other or further orders which may
be passed and subject to orders for adjustment of necessary fund by and between
the Union of India and the concerned States. In the meantime, we would also
like to know from Union of India the current monthly expenditure/costs
State-wise in respect of the administration of the Scheme as we are informed
that the establishment costs now stands considerably reduced, particularly on
and from 1.4.2005. We would also like to know simultaneously from the
respective States and respective High Courts to whom notices have been ordered
to be issued, as to their estimate of expenditure/costs for administering the
Scheme after 1.4.2005. Lastly, we would also like to know from Union of India
whether any portion of Plan- expenditure of Rs.1,72,500 crores for 2005-06
(including Rs.26000 crores under the new pattern of financing the States as
recommended by XIIth Finance Commission) has been allocated for upgradation of
judicial infrastructure as was done by the XIth Finance Commission in its
is directed to forward copy of this order to the Registrar Generals of
concerned High Courts for compliance.
the matters on 29th