Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju has urged state legal services authorities to make every effort to release all undertrial convicts by August 15, 2022, India’s 75th year of independence. The minister also raised alarm over mounting court backlogs, estimating that they will total around five crores.
He stated that the goal should be to resolve two crore cases in two years. “There should be good coordination between the government and the judiciary so that the objective of bringing justice to people is not delayed,” he said.
“The first question I receive wherever I go is what steps the government is taking to ensure that pendency comes down. This is a challenge and this meeting is a good occasion to discuss it,” he added.
In his address to the 18th All India Legal Services Authorities Meet on Saturday in Jaipur, the Law Minister raised concern about the country’s over 5 crore pending cases in its 75th year of independence.
The Minister also voiced concern over the overwhelming number of those awaiting trial who are still imprisoned.
“3.5 lakh prisoners are under trials in our country. In every district, there is a review committee under the leadership of the District Judges. We urge the High Court Chief Justices to take a proactive role. They are doing. Release as many as possible. Because, the Government of India has decided to give a special remission to prisoners and guidelines have been framed. We urge the under trial review committees to act more proactively and help maximum people.”
According to the Union Law Minister, people who are resourceful and wealthy engage high-paid lawyers who charge Rs 10-15 lakh for a single hearing, but the common man cannot afford them. According to the minister, any factor that keeps a common man away from the court is a matter of concern.
On redundant laws, he stated that any such legislation that acts as a burden on the lives of ordinary people must be repealed. So far, he claimed, 1,486 redundant legislation have been eliminated from the statute book, with 1,824 more found.
“I am devoted to remove close to 71 different acts and appropriation acts from the parliament’s statute book,” he said, adding that officers put unnecessary legal conditions on people, causing the ordinary man to suffer.
He further stated that regional and local languages should be encouraged in lower and higher court procedures, but arguments and rulings at the Supreme Court can be delivered in English.
The minister stated that no mother tongue should be deemed inferior to English and that he does not believe a lawyer should be given greater respect, cases, or fees simply because he speaks more English.
“In Supreme Court, arguments and judgements are in English. We have a thought that in High Courts and trial courts, there is need to give primacy for regional languages. There could be lawyers, who are knowledgeable in law, but cannot present their arguments in English. If local languages are permitted in courts, we can solve many problems. If I can’t speak English, then I should have the freedom to speak in my mother tongue. It should not be that only those who speak English get more fees, more cases and more respect. I’m opposed to this. Mother tongues are no less than English. If we give chance to local languages in High Courts and lower courts, it will be good for us.”