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Report No. 79

VI. Norms

1.37. Norms for arrears.-

Since this Report is concerned with "arrears" and "delay" - two concepts vitally linked up with the time element-it is necessary to indicate certain norms to determine what cases can be treated as old at a given time. The Law Commission in its 14th Report1 suggested that cases which were pending for periods of time longer than those mentioned in that Report should be treated as arrears. The periods suggested were as follows:

(Periods suggested in 14h Report)

(a) Second appeals and Letters Patent Appeals

One year.

(b) First appeals

Two years.

(c) Criminal matters, writs and civil revision petitions.

Six months.

The period for treating cases as arrears was to be counted from the date of institution. The High Courts Arrears Committee presided over by Mr. Justice Shah2 considered that it was difficult to adhere to any time schedule for the disposal of a given cause, because the time for each individual cause would be determined by many factors. While we agree with the comment made by the High Courts Arrears Committee, we think that it may be necessary to fix certain periods beyond which a case should be regarded as "old" whose clearance assumes importance.

As regards the actual periods, we largely agree with those suggested in the 14th Report, but have a few modifications and additions to suggest-

(a) The period for second appeals and appeals against judgments of single judges in writ petitions should be one year.

(b) The period for regular first appeals should be two years.

(c) The period for criminal matters and civil revisions should be six months.

(d) So far, however, as petitions under Article 226 (other than those for a habeas corpus) are concerned, the more realistic period in our opinion should be one year. The period for a writ petition for habeas corpus should not normally exceed two months.

(e) Cases submitted to the High Courts for confirmation of the sentence of death pronounced by a court of Session3 should be disposed of within three months from the date of submission.

(f) As regards original suits being tried in High Courts, the period should be two years.

(g) Income-tax references and proceedings under the General Sales Tax Acts, should be disposed of within one year.

(h) Original petitions or appeals or revision petitions under the Land Reforms Act or Tenancy Legislation and Rent Control Acts should be decided within six months.

1. 14th Report, Vol. I.

2. High Courts Arrears Committee Report, (1972), p. 33, para. 21 and p. 34, para. 24.

3. Section 366(1), Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Delay and Arrears in High Courts and Other Appellate Courts Back

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