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Report No. 245

3. The Time Based Method

Another model often used, as for example in the US, for determining the number of judges required by the judicial system is the Time Based Method.28 Broadly speaking, this method determines the time required to clear the existing judicial caseload. It then determines the time available per judge for judicial work. Dividing the first number by the second provides the number of judges required to deal with the existing caseload.

28. A good overview of this approach as undertaken in the U.S. federal Courts can be found in Federal Judicial Center, 2003-2004 District Court Case-Weighting: Final Report to the Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics of The Committee On Judicial Resources of The Judicial Conference of The United States (2005)

In more detail, the time based method involves determining the ideal or actual time taken by judges in deciding a particular type of case on average. Then it requires determining the average number of cases of that type being instituted and pending in the Courts. Multiplying the number of cases with the time required per case, gives the number of judicial hours required to deal with cases of that type.

Dividing this by the number of judicial hours available per year gives the number of judges required to deal with cases of that type. Adding this information for all types of cases that a particular category of judges deals with gives the number of judges required for disposing of the caseload.

In the United States where this approach is followed, the National Centre for State Courts ("NCSC") conducts studies to determine the number of minutes it takes judges to resolve certain cases. Judges are interviewed and are often required to keep time sheets in order to determine the time value of each type of case.29

29. See National Center for State Courts, "The California Judicial Workload Assessment," 2007; National Center for State Courts, "Minnesota Judicial Workload Assessment," 2002; and National Center for State Courts, "North Carolina Superior Court Judicial Workload Assessment," 2001.

The Time-Based Method, as followed by the NCSC computes the number of judges using four pieces of data:

(1) The number of cases instituted by Court, district, and type of case

(2) The average bench and non-bench time a judge requires to resolve each type of case within the Court

(3) The amount of time a judge has available to complete case-related work per year

(4) The number of active judges by Court and district

All the information required to run this model for Indian Courts is not available. In India, the system does not have any information about the time required by judges to resolve each type of case. This lack of information points to a larger systemic problem. Any effort at delay reduction has to first determine how many cases in the system are delayed.

This requires determining what the normal time frame for a particular type of case should be, such that anything beyond this time frame is considered delayed. The judicial system has no such benchmark and, therefore, has no data on how many cases are delayed (as opposed to pending).

One proxy for time could be units. Since judges are required to complete a certain number of units per month, and one knows the time available per judge for judicial work per month, and can calculate the time value of each unit. One can then determine the time value of each type of case by looking at the number of units allotted to that type of case. This would give the data required in point 2 above. However, two problems arise:

1. Units are not a good proxy for time. Units serve as performance benchmarks for judges. As such they are used for different purposes. Often units are used to incentivize the quick disposal of certain types of cases, for example, cases pending for a certain number of years. Second, they are used to incentivize greater productivity. Therefore, for the same type of case, more units per case is sometimes awarded if a judge completes a certain number of such cases. Therefore, the allocation of units is not based solely on time.

2. The data about institution, disposal and pendency that High Courts record, often do not map well against the information available on units. For example, while it is known that the number of Section 302, IPC cases instituted and pending before the Sessions Courts of Delhi, it is not clear how many witnesses are required to be deposed in each case. Units though are awarded, inter alia, on the basis of the number of witnesses in a particular case. Hence, even if one knew the time value of each unit, one would not know the unit value of each murder case instituted or pending before the Court.

For these reasons, the Commission feels that any approach that uses "unit as a proxy for time" may not be a sound approach. There is no other proxies for time and further no scientific data in this regard is available. The time Based Method as practiced elsewhere may not be applicable or feasible in Indian context.



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