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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Until NCMSC formulates a scientific method for determining the basis for computing the required judge strength of the district judiciary, the judge strength shall be computed for each state, in accordance with the interim approach indicated in the note submitted by the Chairperson, NCMSC; NCMSC is requested to endeavour the submission of its final report by 31 December 2017; A copy of the interim report submitted by the Chairperson, NCMSC shall be forwarded by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice to the Chief Justices of all the High Courts and Chief Secretaries of all states within one month so as to enable them to take follow-up action to determine the required judge strength of the district judiciary based on the NCMSC interim report, subject to what has been stated in this judgment; The state governments shall take up with the High Courts concerned the task of implementing the interim report of the Chairperson, NCMSC (subject to what has been observed above) and take necessary decisions within a period of three months from today for enhancing the required judge strength of each state judiciary accordingly; The state governments shall cooperate in all respects with the High Courts in terms of the resolutions passed in the joint conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers in April 2016 with a view to ensuring expeditious disbursal of funds to the state judiciaries in terms of the devolution made under the auspices of the Fourteenth Finance Commission; The High Courts shall take up the issue of creating additional infrastructure required for meeting the existing sanctioned strength of their state judiciaries and the enhanced strength in terms of the interim recommendation of NCMSC; The final report submitted by NCMSC may be placed for consideration before the Conference of Chief Justices. The directions in (i) above shall then be subject to the ultimate decision that is taken on receipt of the final report; and A copy of this order shall be made available to the Registrars General of each High Court and to all Chief Secretaries of the States for appropriate action. 23 List the proceedings for disposal of the criminal appeals before the appropriate bench in the third week of July 2017.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                    CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos. 254-262 OF 2012


IMTIYAZ AHMAD                         .....APPELLANT
                                   VERSUS

STATE OF U.P. & ORS.                                      .....RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T

Dr D Y CHANDRACHUD, J

These Appeals arise from a batch of interlocutory orders  of  the  Allahabad
High Court in a criminal writ petition (1786 of 2003). On  9  April  2003  a
learned Single Judge of the High Court admitted a  writ  petition  filed  by
the second and third respondents and stayed an order dated 7  December  2002
of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Gautam  Budh  Nagar,  directing
the registration of a case against them. The case was adjourned  before  the
High Court on several dates on which it was listed.   As  a  result  of  the
adjournments,  on  the  date  of  the  institution  of  the  Special   Leave
Petitions, the writ petition was pending in the High Court for six years.

2     This Court was concerned with the pendency of similar cases before
the High Courts, where proceedings were stayed at the stage of the
registration of an FIR, investigation, framing of charges or during trial,
in exercise of the power conferred by Article 226 of the Constitution or
Sections 397/482 of Code of Criminal Procedure,1973. Hence this Court, by
an order dated 8 January 2010 called for reports from the Registrars
General of the High Courts, in regard to serious cases involving: (i)
murder; (ii) rape; (iii) kidnapping; and (iv) dacoity.  On the basis of the
data received, reports were presented to the Court by the amicus curiae.
These reports were considered in an order dated 1 February 2012 by a Bench
of two learned Judges, including one of us (the learned Chief Justice of
India). In the order of this Court dated 1 February 2012 the findings in
the second report submitted by the amicus curiae were summarized thus :
“(a) As high as 9% of the cases have completed more than twenty years  since
the date of stay order;

(b) Roughly 21% of the cases have completed more than ten years;

(c) Average pendency per case (counted from the  date  of  stay  order  till
July 26, 2010) works out to be around 7.4 years;

(d) Charge-sheet was found to be the most prominent stage  where  the  cases
were stayed with almost 32% of the cases falling under  this  category.  The
next two prominent stages are found to be “appearance” and  “summons”,  with
each comprising 19% of the total number of cases”.



3     During the course of the  hearing  of  these  proceedings,  the  Union
Government has been impleaded as a party to the  proceedings  having  regard
to the fact that seminal issues are involved  directly  impacting  upon  the
administration of justice. This Court has  assumed  jurisdiction  since  the
long delays in the disposal of cases, particularly  criminal  cases,  has  a
serious impact both on the rule of law and on access to justice which  is  a
fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

4     In 1958, the fourteenth Report of the Law Commission of India  on  the
Reform of Judicial Administration dealt with the issue of delay and  arrears
and identified  inadequate  judge  strength  as  the  “root  cause”  of  the
problem.  This  perspective  has  been  reiterated  in  several   successive
reports, including of the Law Commission.  These include the 77th Report  of
the Law Commission  of  India  on  “Delay  and  arrears  in  trial  courts”,
November, 1978 (Ministry of Law and  Justice,  Government  of  India);  78th
Report of the  Law  Commission  of  India  on  “Congestion  of  under  trial
prisoners  in  jails”,  February,  1979  (Ministry  of  Law   and   Justice,
Government of India); 79th Report of the Law Commission of India  on  “Delay
and Arrears in High Courts and other Appellate Courts”, May, 1979  (Ministry
of  Law  and  Justice,  Government  of  India);  121st  Report  of  the  Law
Commission  of  India  (method  of  review  of  judge  strength  at  regular
intervals), 1987; 124th Report of the Law Commission of  India  –  The  High
Court Arrears – A fresh look, 1988; Report of The Arrears  Committee  (Three
Chief Justices Committee : Kerala, Calcutta & Madras), 1989-90.
5     The 120th Report of the Law Commission on  Manpower  Planning  in  the
Judiciary (1987) suggested a formula for the  fixation  of  judge  strength,
adopting a demographic approach.  The  Report  suggested  that  demographics
should be the basis for fixation of judge strength.  Its rationale  was  set
out thus :
“ As to the possible accusation that the working out of the ratio of  Judges
strength  per  million  of  Indian  population  is  a  gross  measure,   the
Commission wishes to say that  this  is  one  clear  criterion  of  manpower
planning.  If legislative representation can be worked out, as  pointed  out
earlier, on the basis of population and if other services  of  the  State  –
bureaucracy, police etc. – can  also  be  similarly  planned,  there  is  no
reason at all for the  non-extension  of  this  principle  to  the  judicial
services.  It must also be frankly stated that while  population  may  be  a
demographic unit, it is also a democratic unit.   In  other  words,  we  are
talking of citizens with democratic rights  including  right  to  access  to
justice which it is the duty of the State to provide.”

The Report indicated that though the US in 1981  had  one-third  of  India’s
population, it had a judge to population ratio of one hundred  seven  judges
per million, while in India it was only ten judges  per  million.   The  Law
Commission suggested that the  judge  to  population  ratio  be  immediately
increased  from  ten  judges  to  fifty  judges  per  million.   The  Report
suggested that by 2000 India should achieve a  target  of  one  hundred  and
seven judges per million (which the US had in 1981).
6     If these recommendations had been acted upon India  would  have  judge
strength of 1,10,071 in 2000 (with  the  population  of  1028  million)  and
1,36,794 as on 31 December 2015. However, the  sanctioned  strength  of  the
judiciary at all levels on 31 December 2015 was only 21,607.
7     This Court in a judgment delivered on  21  March  2002  in  All  India
Judges Association v. Union of  India[1]  endorsed  the  views  of  the  Law
Commission in its 120th Report and  directed  that  a  judge  to  population
ratio of fifty judges per million be achieved within a period of five  years
and not later than ten years in any case.  This Court observed :
“The increase in the Judge strength to 50 Judges per 10 lakh  people  should
be effected and implemented with the filling  up  of  the  posts  in  phased
manner to be determined and directed by the Union Ministry of Law, but  this
process should be completed and the increased  vacancies  and  posts  filled
within a period of five years  from  today.  Perhaps  increasing  the  Judge
strength by 10 per 10 lakh people every year could be  one  of  the  methods
which may be adopted thereby completing the first stage  within  five  years
before embarking on further increase if necessary”.

The Report of the Parliamentary Standing  Committee  on  Arrears  in  Courts
(2002) supported the application of the demographic  norm  as  the  starting
point for determination of judge strength. In a letter dated 2  April  2013,
the then Prime Minister of India also accepted  the  recommendation  of  the
Chief Justice of India to double the existing number of courts.   When  this
issue was taken up at the Joint Conference  of  Chief  Ministers  and  Chief
Justices in 2013 it was resolved to create new posts  of  judicial  officers
with requisite staff and infrastructure.
8     In order to address the issue of arrears, a policy decision was  taken
by the Union government to constitute  fast  track  courts  and  funds  were
allocated under the Eleventh Finance Commission for a period of  five  years
(2000-05).  When the issue of the discontinuation of fast-track courts  came
up, this Court in Brij  Mohan  Lal  v.  Union  of  India[2]  held  that  the
policies  of  the  State  should  not  derogate  from  undermining  judicial
independence and if a policy was counter-productive or  liable  to  increase
the case load, the court intervene judicially.  Though this  Court  desisted
from interfering with the policy decision in regard  to  discontinuing  fast
track courts, keeping in mind the huge pendency of cases,  a  direction  was
issued for the creation of additional posts in  the  district  judiciary  to
the extent of ten per cent of the total regular cadre  within  a  stipulated
period.
9     In a recent Report prepared by the Centre for  Research  and  Planning
of the Supreme Court of India  titled  “Subordinate  Courts  of  India  :  A
Report on Access to Justice 2016” a detailed analysis has been made  of  the
pendency of cases in the district judiciary.  The following table which  has
been compiled in the Report shows the figures of institution,  disposal  and
pendency in the district judiciary for 2013-15 :
|Year                                         |

Where,
BEJ= Additional No. of Judges required to Break Even.
AI= Average Institution
ARD= Average Rate of Disposal
D2010, D2011, D2012 = Annual Disposal for that year
J2010, J2011, J2012 = Annual Working Strength of Judges for that year
J= Current Working Strength of Judges
The formula for determining the Number of Judges for  disposing  of  Backlog
required to dispose of pending cases within a given time period is:

|AJBk =  (B/ARD)/t                  |


Where,
AJBk= No. of Judges for disposing of Backlog
B= Backlog, defined as the number of cases pending for more than a year.
t= The time frame, in number of years, within which the backlog needs to  be
cleared”.

12    The Law Commission has noted that in the past, it was  suggested  that
judges required to dispose of the backlog are needed only until the  backlog
is cleared. Hence, it was  proposed  that  short-term,  ad-hoc  appointments
should be made  from  amongst  retired  judges  for  clearing  the  backlog.
However, the previous experience of the functioning of ad  hoc  appointments
in the district judiciary reflected serious concern especially of  the  lack
of  accountability  in  their   functioning   and   performance.   Moreover,
additional infrastructure would be required to be created  even  for  ad-hoc
judges appointed in the system. The proposal to  have  a  shift  system  has
been resisted by the Bar since it results in  an  increase  in  the  working
hours.
13    The note submitted by  Professor  Dr  G  Mohan  Gopal  raises  certain
concerns about the rate of disposal method suggested by the Law  Commission.
These concerns as set out in the  note  submitted  by  him,  are  summarized
below :

The definition of backlog  (difference  between  institution  and  disposal)
does not take into account the fact that every case  requires  a  reasonable
period for its disposal based on the nature of the dispute involved in  that
case. Under the above definition, even cases which have been  filed  towards
the end of a year must be disposed  of  by  31  December  to  eliminate  the
backlog.  In the absence of  established  time  frames  in  our  system  for
disposal of cases the elimination of a backlog is virtually  unimplementable
since it is impossible for courts to dispose of cases filed  days  or  weeks
before the end of a specified reference period;

The rate of disposal method  unintentionally  incentivizes  lower  disposals
because lower the rate of disposal, the greater  the  number  of  additional
judicial positions which that court will get under  this  methodology.   The
method proposed by the Law Commission is (according  to  the  critique)  not
designed to improve productivity nor does it concern itself  with  judge  to
case ratio;

The rate of disposal method does not give  weightage  to  cases  based  upon
their nature and complexity and all types  of  cases  are  treated  at  par.
Complex cases require greater amounts  of  judicial  time  and  effort  than
simple cases;

The rate of disposal method does not take into  account  the  reasonableness
of the work load of judges.  Any assessment of judge strength must take  due
account of the “maximum  permissible  reasonable  work  load”  for  a  judge
before mental and physical fatigue start impairing the quality of working;

Merely focusing upon the reduction of backlog is not adequate since what  is
required is a scientific method to assess the judge strength needed to  deal
with the backlog as well as the flow of new cases.



14    NCMSC has suggested that the clearance of backlog is not the  sole  or
central  basis  for  determining  judge  strength.  Several  other  critical
parameters include (i) rate of case clearance: the number of cases  disposed
of as a percentage  of  institution;  (ii)  on  time  disposal  rate  –  the
percentage of cases resolved within an established time  frame;  (iii)  pre-
trial  custody periods wherein an under-trial is in  custody  pending  trial
of a criminal case; and (iv)  trial  date  certainty  –  the  proportion  of
important  case  processing  provisions  that  are  held  according  to  the
schedule finalized.   Professor Dr G Mohan Gopal suggests that the  rate  of
disposal method does not make a substantial departure from  past  approaches
that have not yielded desired results.

15    The Chairperson of  NCMSC  has  proposed  an  interim  approach  which
augments the disposal rate method of the Law Commission with the  prevailing
unit system of the High Courts to attribute a weightage to  cases  based  on
their nature and complexity.  Under the unit system  the  High  Courts  have
established disposal  norms  for  the  district  judiciary  based  on  units
allocated for disposal of different  cases.   On  the  basis  of  the  units
prescribed, performance  is  rated  from  “excellent”  and  ‘very  good’  to
‘unsatisfactory’. The approach which has been suggested, based on  the  unit
system, is as follows :

      “Applying The Unit System to Assess Required Judge Strength

(i)Number of judges required to dispose of the annual “flow”  of  new  cases
(“break even”)

25. Every court should calculate in units its  average  annual  filing  over
the previous five years for all types of cases.

26. Divide the annual filing units above  by  the  number  of  annual  units
required to be disposed of by a judge for VERY GOOD performance.

27. This will give for each court, the number of judges required  to  ensure
“break even”, i.e., disposal equals the number  of  new  cases  filed  every
year in that court.



(ii)Number of judges required for disposal of backlog of cases

28. First, every court should calculate in units  its  “backlog”,  i.e.  the
number of cases of all categories pending for more  than  the  maximum  time
standard set by it for disposal (e.g., three years)

29. Second, a suitable time period may  be  established  within  which  this
“backlog” should be cleared (e.g. 5 years).

30. Third, divide the total backlog in units by the number of  years  within
which it has to be cleared (e.g., 5 years).  This  will  give  the  required
annual disposal of “backlog”.

31. Fourth, divide the required annual disposal of backlog by the number  of
annual units required to be disposed of by each judge  (units  required  for
VERY GOOD performance).

32. This gives the number of judges required to  dispose  of  “the  backlog”
within the prescribed time frame.

33. The judge strength so assessed should be monitored annually.

34.  Needless  to  say,  it  will  be  desirable  that  unit   systems   are
rationalized and strengthened with as much  uniformity  of  approach  across
the country as feasible, addressing variations and  limitations  of  systems
currently in place.



iii.  Total number of  judges  required  for  achieving  “break  even”  plus
“disposal of backlog”

35. Add the number of Judges required for “break  even”  to  the  number  of
Judges required for disposal of backlog, as determined above.

      iv. Trigger for creation of new courts

36. When for any court, the total number of units required  to  be  disposed
annually (“breakeven” plus backlog, if any) is greater than  1.5  times  the
disposal norm for a “very good performance” judge, a new  court  would  need
to be created.”



16    While evaluating the  limitations  of  the  rate  of  disposal  method
suggested by the  Law  Commission  which  have  been  noted  in  the  report
submitted by the Chairperson, NCMSC, certain aspects would have to be  borne
in mind. The criticism that the rate of disposal method places an  incentive
on lower disposals in certain courts has its own limitations. A  lower  rate
of disposal may not necessarily reflect upon the  efficiency  with  which  a
judge has conducted the court. Trials are held up because of  a  paucity  of
public prosecutors.  Witnesses  cited  by  the  state,  particularly  police
personnel, remain absent on dates fixed  for  trial,  resulting  in  delays.
Service of summons is delayed because of the laxity of  police.  In  several
northern states, particularly, the State of  Uttar  Pradesh  soaring  summer
temperatures  have  in  the  absence  of  basic  infrastructural  facilities
including continuous power supply resulted in  the  institutionalization  of
morning courts in several districts. The convenience of  ordinary  litigants
and witnesses with limited resources, who travel from  afar  without  proper
means of transportation cannot be  disregarded  by  the  presiding  judicial
officer.The   functioning   of   courts   which   lack   even    rudimentary
infrastructure is affected, as a result. In a number of states, it has  been
the experience that there are  impediments  faced  by  the  district  courts
including strikes of lawyers and abstention from work for  causes  unrelated
to the functioning of the judge or court concerned. The loss of  mandays  on
account of such causes results in a wastage  of  productive  judicial  time.
Hence, it would not be correct to assert that the rate  of  disposal  method
places an incentive upon the unproductive or inefficient.  Ground  realities
cannot be ignored merely on the basis of statistics.
17    Another aspect which merits emphasis is that while  prescribing  units
for disposal, a robust attempt must be made by the  High  Courts  to  ensure
that due importance is given  to  the  disposal  of  old  cases.  The  units
prescribed for disposal  must  provide  adequate  incentives  to  attend  to
complex and time consuming cases. Failing this, the out-turn proscribed  for
the district judiciary is attempted to be  achieved  without  due  attention
being given to the disposal of those cases which remain pending for long  as
a result of their complexity, the number  of  witnesses  involved  and  such
other  factors. This is an aspect which needs to be looked into by the  High
Courts in consultation with the district  judiciary.  District  judges  with
long years of experience in the service are  in  a  position  to  appreciate
practical realities and to indicate the manner in which the unit system  can
be revised in each state to encourage judges  at  both  the  trial  and  the
appellate level to take up those  cases  which  consume  judicial  time  and
which should not be placed on the back-burner for fear that the  judge  will
not be able to  fulfill  the  units  expected.  The  Chief  Justices  should
initiate the process of revising unit  based  norms  in  relation  to  their
states. Each state has its own requirements specific to it which have to  be
borne in mind. The unit system must be framed so as to recognize the  output
of judicial officers in disposing of those cases which clog the system.
18    In prescribing the judge strength it is necessary  to  ensure  that  a
backlog does not result in the future as a result of an increase  in  annual
filings. The rate of increase in  future  filings  has  to  be  anticipated.
Anticipation of what  the  future  holds  is  an  estimate.  One  method  of
estimating the extent of the increase in future filings is  to  have  regard
to the increase reflected over a comparable period in  the  past  for  which
data is available. Those  figures  can  be  extrapolated  to  determine  the
increase in annual filings. The enhancement in the strength of the  district
judiciary should be such that  a  ‘five  plus  zero’  pendency  is  achieved
(wiping out the backlog within a target period of five years).
19    In response to  the  recommendations  submitted  by  the  Chairperson,
NCMSC, an affidavit has been filed on behalf of the Union of  India  in  the
Ministry of Law and Justice.  The Union government has stated that while  it
is broadly in agreement with this approach,  the  methodology  suggested  by
NCMSC can be adopted subject to certain stipulations. The relevant  part  of
the response is extracted below :

“6. The Ministry of Law and Justice,  Government  of  India  is  broadly  in
agreement with the recommendations  made  by  NCMS  Committee  as  indicated
above.  The methodology suggested by  NCMS  Committee  can  be  adopted  for
determining the adequacy of judge strength with following stipulations.

(i) All High Courts must evolve uniform data collection and data  management
methods under the ongoing E-Courts Mission Mode Project and  make  available
online Real time Data on pendency of various  categories  of  cases  to  the
respective State Governments and Central Government.

(ii) The trigger for creation of new posts must be activated only after  90%
of the sanctioned strength has been filled up, failing  which  the  creation
of additional posts will have no  impact  or  consequence  on  reduction  of
pendency”.



20    The report which has been submitted to this Court by the  Chairperson,
NCMSC observes that in the long term, the judge strength of  the  courts  in
the district judiciary will have to be assessed by a  scientific  method  to
determine the total number of judicial hours required for disposing  of  the
case load of each court.  In the interim, a weighted disposal  approach,  as
explained above has been suggested. Since the Union  government  is  broadly
in agreement with this approach,  we  deem  it  appropriate  and  proper  to
permit it to be utilized at this stage for the purpose  of  determining  the
required judge strength of the  district  judiciary.  The  Union  government
has, however, suggested two broad stipulations.  The first is that  all  the
High Courts must make available real time data on the  pendency  of  various
categories of cases. In this regard, both the NCMSC as well  as  E-Committee
are actively engaging with the High Courts.  An endeavour should be made  to
ensure that real time data is duly compiled and  made  available  online  by
the High Courts as part of the National Judicial Arrears Grid.  We  are  not
inclined to accept the second stipulation that new posts should  be  created
only after 90 per cent of the sanctioned strength has been filled  up.   For
one thing, filling up of vacancies in the district judiciary is an  on-going
process.  In many states, the process of filling  up  posts  is  pursued  in
conjunction with the State Public Service Commissions.  Many of  the  delays
are not in the control of the High Courts.  Moreover,  it  is  necessary  to
provide for the required judge strength in every  state  district  judiciary
so as to facilitate the creation of infrastructure.  In several states,  the
available infrastructure is inadequate and insufficient  to  meet  even  the
existing judge strength. Hence, a  scientific  assessment  of  the  required
judge strength will form the basis of ensuring that  the  state  governments
put into place the infrastructure required for tackling judicial delays.

21    By an order of this Court dated  29  November  2016,  this  Court  had
permitted the  Union  government  to  place  on  the  record  the  following
information in regard to funds made  available  by  the  Fourteenth  Finance
Commission for meeting the needs of the state judiciary and  the  modalities
for disbursement and utilisation :

“i) Whether any break-up of the said allocation has  been  provided  for  by
the Finance Commission and/or Government of India or any  guidelines  as  to
the areas in which the said amount will be expended.

ii)  In  case   such   a   break-up   is   prescribed,   a   copy   of   the
communication/order under which the same has  been  provided  be  placed  on
record.

iii) What is the manner  by  which  the  Government  of  India  proposes  to
monitor the utilization of  the  amount  set  apart  for  judiciary  by  the
States.  State wise allocation be also indicated.”



In pursuance of these directions, an affidavit has been filed on  behalf  of
the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.  The  affidavit  indicates  that  the
Department  of  Justice  had  submitted  the  following  proposals  to   the
Fourteenth Finance Commission involving a total requirement of  Rupees  9749
crores :

Pendency Reduction                          :  Rs.858.83 crore



Establishment of Fast Track Courts   :  Rs.4144.11 crore

Establishment of Family

Courts in districts without

such courts                                   :  Rs.541.06 crore

Re-designing existing

court complexes to become

more litigant friendly                :  Rs.1400 crore

Augmenting technical

support for ICT enabled courts           :  Rs.479.68 crore

Scanning and Digitalisation

of Case Records of High Courts

and District Courts                             :  Rs.752.50 crore

Enhancing Access to Justice

Support for Law School

based Legal Aid Clinics with

focus on undertrials            :  Rs.50.50 crore

Organizing Lok Adalats            :  Rs.93.61 crore

Support for Mediation

/conciliation in ADR centres      :  Rs.300 crore

Incentives to Mediators

/Concilators                            :  Rs.503.44 crore

(a) Training and capacity

building of judges, public

prosecutors, mediators,

lawyers: Refresher, ongoing             :  Rs.550 crore

(b)   Establishment of

State Judicial Academies

in Manipur, Meghalaya and

Tripura                                  :  Rs.75 crore

     Total Cost                 :  Rs.9749 crore”

State-wise and sector-wise details have been annexed to the  affidavit.  The
Fourteenth Finance Commission endorsed the proposals of  the  Department  of
Justice and has urged the state governments to  use  the  additional  fiscal
allocation provided in the form of tax devolution to meet  the  requirements
of the state judiciaries. The  Prime  Minister  of  India  has  addressed  a
letter dated 23 April 2015 to the  Chief  Ministers  calling  upon  them  to
allocate funds required for the activities  recommended  by  the  Fourteenth
Finance Commission in the  state  budgets  from  2015-2016  to  improve  the
working of the judicial system and provide speedy  justice.   Following  the
joint conference of Chief Justices of High Courts  and  Chief  Ministers  of
States held in April 2015, the Union Minister of Law and  Justice  addressed
letters to the Chief Justices and Chief Ministers in  June  2015  requesting
them  to  institute  a  mechanism  for  regular   interaction   to   resolve
outstanding issues particularly those relating to  infrastructure  and  man-
power needs of the judiciary.  It may be noted here that at  the  Conference
of Chief  Justices  of  High  Courts  held  in  April  2016,  the  following
resolution was adopted :

“Resolved that the following strategy be adopted by the High Courts:

Constitution of  a  dedicated  cell  for  the  utilization  of  funds.   The
composition of  the  Cell  should  consist  of  policy  makers,  experts  in
planning  and  budgeting,  senior  judicial  officers  and  persons  to   be
nominated by the Chief Justice.  The Cell shall be assigned the task of:

                    (a)     Preparing  perspectives/annual  plans  and  time
            lines;

(b)    Drawing up budget estimates;

(c)   Monitoring and review of the implementation of

            each scheme;

(d)   Taking up the matter with the State Government to  ensure  release  of
funds.

Submitting a request for funds from the State  Government  within  time  for
financial years 2016-17 to 2019-2020;

Ensuring that funds are spent in accordance with  the  budgetary  allocation
and  speedy  and  effective  utilization.   For  this  purpose,   periodical
meetings and reviews be conducted; and

Monitoring of schemes and outcomes through special on-line portals  and  ICT
tools.  Progress made be reviewed in State Court Management System  meetings
and quarterly progress reports be forwarded to the Supreme Court for  review
by National Court Management System”.



Thereafter, in the Conference of Chief Justices  and  Chief  Ministers,  the
following resolution was adopted :

“With a view to facilitate proper  and  timely  utilization  of  funds  made
available by the 14th Finance Commission to the State  judiciaries,  it  was
resolved that:

Finance Secretaries of each State be associated with the work  of  the  High
Court committees in-charge of monitoring 14th Finance Commission funds;

Proper coordination be ensured between the Central and State Governments  in
regard  to  the  submission  of  utilization  certificates  in  relation  to
infrastructure projects of the state judiciaries;

In respect of the e-Court Scheme and  Infrastructure scheme which are  being
monitored by the Department of Justice, intimations  of  funds  remitted  to
the State Governments under these two Schemes shall  also  be  forwarded  by
the Department of Justice to the High Courts.

State Governments shall (i) lend such assistance to the High  Courts  as  is
required for proper utilization of 14th Finance Commission funds;  and  (ii)
grant a one time exemption for 2016-17 to facilitate proper utilization”.



The Union Minister of Law and Justice has since addressed communications  to
the Chief Ministers of States requesting that the state Finance  Secretaries
should assist the registries of  the  High  Courts  to  prepare  perspective
plans/individual plans for  activities  to  be  undertaken  in  the  justice
sector. A letter has been addressed to the Chief Justices  on  26  September
2016. The affidavit explains that necessary  mechanisms  have  been  set  up
under the  resolutions  of  the  Conference  of  Chief  Justices  and  Chief
Ministers and of the Chief Justices respectively.

22    Having regard to the above background, we  now  proceed  to  formulate
our directions in the following terms :

Until NCMSC formulates a scientific method for  determining  the  basis  for
computing  the required judge strength of the district judiciary, the  judge
strength shall be computed for each state, in accordance  with  the  interim
approach indicated in the note submitted by the Chairperson, NCMSC;

NCMSC is requested to endeavour the submission of its  final  report  by  31
December 2017;

A copy of the interim report submitted by the Chairperson,  NCMSC  shall  be
forwarded by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice to the Chief Justices  of
all the High Courts and Chief Secretaries of all states within one month  so
as to enable them to take follow-up action to determine the  required  judge
strength of the district  judiciary  based  on  the  NCMSC  interim  report,
subject to what has been stated in this judgment;

The state governments shall take up with the High Courts concerned the  task
of implementing the interim report of the  Chairperson,  NCMSC  (subject  to
what has been observed above) and take necessary decisions within  a  period
of three months from today for enhancing  the  required  judge  strength  of
each state judiciary accordingly;

The state governments shall cooperate in all respects with the  High  Courts
in terms of  the  resolutions  passed  in  the  joint  conference  of  Chief
Justices and  Chief  Ministers  in  April  2016  with  a  view  to  ensuring
expeditious disbursal of funds to the state  judiciaries  in  terms  of  the
devolution made under the auspices of the Fourteenth Finance Commission;

The  High  Courts  shall  take  up  the   issue   of   creating   additional
infrastructure required for meeting  the  existing  sanctioned  strength  of
their state judiciaries and the enhanced strength in terms  of  the  interim
recommendation of NCMSC;

 The final report submitted by NCMSC may be placed for consideration  before
the Conference of Chief Justices. The directions in (i) above shall then  be
subject to the ultimate decision that is  taken  on  receipt  of  the  final
report; and

A copy of this order shall be made available to the  Registrars  General  of
each High Court and to all Chief Secretaries of the States  for  appropriate
action.

23    List the proceedings for disposal of the criminal appeals  before  the
appropriate bench in the third week of July 2017.

                                …........................................CJI
                                               [T S  THAKUR]


                             ............. …...............................J
                                                    [Dr D Y  CHANDRACHUD]



                           ................................................J
                                                    [L NAGESWARA RAO]
New Delhi
January 02, 2017.
-----------------------
[1]

      [2]    (2002) 4 SCC 247
[3]
      [4]    (2012) 6 SCC 502


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