Report No. 154
A. Problems of Delay and Arrears in Court and Speedy Trial
*. The World 'Annexure' has been replaced by Appendix' here, so as to avoid confusion.
1. (a) What in your opinion, are the causes of delay in the trial courts in the disposal of cases?
(b) Have you any suggestion to make for cutting short such delays?
2. Specific Causes
How far is delay due to-
(a) Inadequate number of Judges?
(b) Insufficient accommodation, lack of books, lack of stenographical assistance or other factors by way of unsatisfactory conditions of work affecting quality of work?
(c) Defects in the procedure?
3. Petty criminal cases - disposal by other agencies
Should petty criminal cases be disposed of by honorary magistrates?
Would you consider it appropriate that there should be some time-limit for oral arguments, during which counsel can, if so desired, supplement by written submission?
5. Do you think that in order to avoid delay in rendering speedy justice taking the services of retired judicial officers and administrative staff to help them on a temporary basis like a pilot project will go in a long way in ensuring the speedy trial of criminal cases?
6. How are case lists prepared?
Is it done in a systematic manner with reference to flow of cases and the need for quick disposal; or are they being prepared in routine manner? It appears to be the practice to post about 40 to 50 cases every day, while the actual judicial work, i.e. examination of witnesses etc., does not cover more than a couple of cases, even that too, for one or two witnesses only.
Is it better management of the courts possible? Should all appearance cases and miscellaneous matters be listed before a pool of special magistrates so that all other courts may devote their time to taking evidences and hear arguments, and thus they should be free from involvement in miscellaneous matters and consumption of time required for such purposes can be utilised for the effective trial of main cases?
7. Adjournments in trial
Even though section 309 contemplates for holding the proceedings as expeditiously as possible and examination of witnesses from day to day, yet it is an open fact that on account of adjournments, there is caused inordinate delay in disposal of criminal cases. To control adjournments is a matter of great importance to tackle the issue of delay. In what manner section 309 can further be amended?
8. Disposal of certain cases by Nyaya Panchayat
In order to render criminal justice at the door steps of victim and for expeditious disposal of cases, is it feasible to refer some of the criminal cases. Nyaya Panchayat as recommended by the Law Commission in its 114th Report on Gram Nyayalaya. What should be the category of offences which may be referred to Nyaya Panchayats?
9. Compounding of offences
Of late, various High Courts have quashed criminal proceedings, (in respect of non-cognizable offences) because of settlement between the parties to achieve the harmony and peace in the society, for example, criminal proceedings in respect of offences under section 406 relating to misappropriation of dowry articles or Isiri Dhan and offences under section 498A, IPC were quashed; Arun Kumar Vohra v. Mrs. Reetu Vohra, (1995) 1 All India Criminal Law Reporter 431; Nirlap Singh v. State of Punjab, 1993 (2) All India Criminal Law Reporter 800. Similarly should other class offences may be made compoundable by expanding the scope of section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure?
10. Conversion of some warrant cases into summons and to be tried summarily
Should any other class of offences, which are triable as a warrant case, be converted into trial in summary manner as laid down under Chapters XX and XXI?
11. Compounding at the stage of investigation
Wherein respect of any offence compoundable under section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, if the parties give their desire to compound the case on the initiative of the Investigating Officer he shall make a report of the same to the Magistrate who thereupon deal with the case under section 320. Whether such a step will help in reducing the number of cases going for trial before a court at the initial stage itself?
12. What are the causes for delay in investigation by the investigating officers? Have you any suggestions for minimising such delay should the State Police be divided into two agencies: (i) State Investigating Force and (ii) State Law and Order Force and that in each District the Investigating Force should not be used for other duties?
13. Can the Code of Criminal Procedure be amended to permit creation of a Judicial-cum-Police Agency to screen all decisions by State and Central Investigating Agencies either to file charge sheet or to drop investigation. In what manner such Agencies be structured?
14. Whether trial should proceed in a case where an under-trial prisoner has already spent a sufficiently long period in jail, which is equivalent to a substantial portion of the term of imprisonment prescribed for the offence? If the answer is in affirmative what should be the norm for releasing a person who has been arraigned for such a considerable period?
15. It is noticed that when the police file a charge sheet in a court, there is some amount of delay in taking it on file. Is there any particular reason for this, as such delays extend to three or four months in some cases?