Culture of seeking adjournments delaying cases

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind, on Saturday said that the Indian legal system is marked by long delays, while adding that one of the reasons causing delays in adjudication is the “culture of seeking adjournments as a norm”.

Noting that the judiciary is making sincere efforts to curb this practice, the President expressed confidence that the entire legal fraternity will resolve not to seek adjournments except in absolutely unavoidable circumstances.

“There is a backlog of 3.3 crore cases in various courts. Of these, 2.84 crore cases are in subordinate courts, 43 lakh in the High Courts and about 58,000 in the Supreme Court,” the President noted while inaugurating the National Conference organised by Supreme Court advocates.

The President said, “India’s judiciary is respected across the world as an upholder of justice for the defenceless. It is also true that our judges are overburdened by the sheer volume of cases. As a consequence, the Indian legal system is marked by long delays.”

The President also stated that there are many reasons for such delays. There are infrastructure gaps and considerable vacancies, particularly in subordinate courts. “There is a culture of seeking adjournments as a norm rather than an exception. New thinking is gradually taking place on frequent adjournments,” he said.

The President also said that demands from our advocates and legal professionals have changed dramatically in recent decades. As the Indian economy has opened up, business and trade law and technology law have come to acquire a new salience and specialisation. The study of these has added lustre to our legal education.

He further added that the traditional law faculties in public universities provide the backbone of the legal fraternity in India. Their rejuvenation, including access to greater funding from private and innovative sources, should be a common endeavour.

“When it comes to private law schools of a certain stature, the Bar Council of India could consider providing greater autonomy – perhaps recognising them in the manner of “institutes of eminence,” the President added.

Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, who was also present, said that time has come that young lawyers without much tenure or practice are competently addressing the court.