By Paojel Chaoba
IMPHAL, April 3: Close on the heels of the Parliament passing the bill for establishment of a separate High Court in 3 states including Manipur a central team is arriving at Imphal to assess the ground situation here.
The North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012, paved the way for creation of High Courts in Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura by amending the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 on May 16 last.
At present, the three states have benches under the Gauhati High Court. Once the new High Courts are established, the number of High Courts in the country will go up from 21 to 24.
Sources said, the central team would be led by the Union Joint Secretary (Law, Justice and legislative Affairs) will arrive here on or before June 9.
President of the High Court Bar Association N Kumarjit Singh said, “We face several complaints from the litigants, as cases in the civil courts take immense time due to the volume of pending cases. The main reason however is due to lack of judges and designated courts”.
Adding that there are only 29 civil courts with equal number of judges catering to the entire state population, Kumarjit remarked that an immense workload has been given to the judges.
“The workload of an elephant cannot be borne by a cow, this is what is happening at the state judiciary presently”, adding that there are no separate courts for the CBI, NIA, Electricity and others.
He stated that a civil or criminal case takes more than twenty years for disposal which is contrary to the Indian Judiciary policy of ‘Speedy disposal’ and ‘Delivering justice at the doorstep’.
To address the cases of domestic matters, land disputes, accident cases, criminal cases etc for the state, there are only 2 District and Sessions judges, 2 additional district and session judges, only 1 for NDPS, 1 for Family Court,1 for Motor Accident Claim Tribunal and Revenue Tribunal, 12 senior Chief Judicial Magistrates cum Civil judges and 10 Junior Magistrates Ist Class.
“There are over 2 lac vehicles in the state roads and nearly each day accidents occur, there are a number of land disputes, divorce cases, narcotic cases. How can a single judge attend to all cases of each specified division”, Kumarjit complained.
Moreover, police have started arresting people under the Electricity Act and the cases have been handed over as an extra burden to the member secretary of Manipur State Legal Services Authority. Similarly, CBI and NIA do not have separate courts here but have been charged to District and Sessions Judge.
“Those arrested by the NIA are presently tried at Guwahati now”, according to the senior advocate, there should be 9 separate District and Session Courts 9 for each district),one additional District and Sessions court for each district, 5 family courts, 5 special judges for Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances cases (There are presently 3000 charge sheeted cases pending for trial), 5 special courts for CBI/NIA, 2 courts for electricity offences, 5 special courts for Motor Accident Claims Tribunals, 2 for Revenue and other tribunals, 12 civil judges (senior divisons) including allocation of 2 for Imphal East and 2 for Imphal West,1 for Jiribam and rest for the nine districts etc for speedy and effective disposal of cases.
The memorandum urging the appeal of the High Court Bar Association had been submitted to the Prime Minister and the Union Law Minister priorly. The same was submitted to the Governor, Chief Minister, Law minister and other concerned officials on May 22.
It may be mentioned that as per population increase, the number of litigants has multiplied whereas the same number of courts (29) has remained the same.
This is also a clear violation of a Supreme Court ruling (2002)4 SCC 247, made on 21/3/2002 directing the concerned authorities of the state to increase the Judge strength by five times within a period of 5 years from the date of judgment.
Para 25 of the judgement of the SC states, “If sufficient number of judges are not appointed, justice would not be available to the people.It is well known that justice delayed is justice denied”.