The government think tank NITI Aayog has suggested the establishment of a judicial performance index to check delay in finalization of cases in the lower judiciary. It has also recommended streamlining judicial appointments through an online system. "The first step (towards judicial reforms) would be to establish a judicial performance index.
Such an index could be established to help high courts and high court chief justices to keep track of performance and process improvement at the district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay," it said in the report.
Judicial Performance Index: A Tool to Check Pendency of Cases
The index can also include certain progress on process steps that have already been approved by high courts, like the burden of day-to-day activity being removed from judges and given to administrative officials. "This annual evaluation should give judges in high courts and district courts a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.
Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the high courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those states," the report said. The Niti Aayog report has suggested shifting some workload out of the regular court system and introduction of an administrative cadre in the judicial system.
"To maintain judicial independence, the cadre should report into the chief justice in each high court. Currently, judges also handle many administrative responsibilities, which reduce the time available to them for hearing cases and writing judgements," it said.
Proposed measures to improve judicial performance:
1. The index helps to reduce delays in cases
- A judicial performance index should be introduced to reduce delays.
- This could help High Courts and their chief justices keep track of the performance and processes at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay.
2. To help in Fixing of ‘non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases
- The performance index for courts will entail fixing of ‘non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases to benchmark when a case has been delayed.’
3. To help in tracking the record
- The index can also include certain progress on process steps already approved by High Courts and such an annual evaluation should give judges in High Courts ‘a sense of where they are failing and what they need to fix.’
4. To Encourage competitive reform of the judiciary in the States
- Since the subordinate judiciary is largely within the domain of the High Courts, this could also spur competitive reform of the judiciary in those States.
5. Repeal all irrelevant legislation by March 2019 and reform land ownership laws — which account for 67% of litigants in civil suits.
6. Streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics
- Citing inordinate delays in India’s judicial system and its low rank on enforcing contracts in the World Bank’s ease of doing a business report for 2017, the think tank has also called for streamlining judicial appointments on the basis of online real-time statistics on the workload of pending cases.
7. Such data will help enable priority appointment of judges at the lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assess the number of judges needed to tackle pendency.
Proposed measures to improve policing:
- Create a task force to identify ‘non-core functions’ that can be outsourced to private agents or government departments in order to reduce the workload of the police.
- Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and address verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced.
- India’s police to population ratio should reach the United Nations norms of 222 per lakh population, over the next seven years, from the current level of 137.
- Red-flagging the adverse implications of crimes against women beyond ‘the obvious horror for affected individuals’, the Aayog has asked the Home Ministry to push for greater hiring of women in the police force, with a target of 30% of all new recruits.
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