The premier government think tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has suggested establishment of a judicial performance index (JPI) to check delay in finalisation of cases in lower judiciary.
It was suggested as part of ‘Three Year Action Agenda (2017-20) recommendations for far-reaching reforms to expedite justice delivery system, particularly lower courts where nearly 3 crore cases have been pending for years.
Judicial performance index (JPI)
Establishing of JPI will help the high courts and its chief justices to keep track ofperformance and process improvement at district courts and subordinate levels for reducing delay. It can also include certain progress on process steps that have already been approved by high courts, like removing burden of day-to-day activity of judges and giving it to administrative officials.
The process of calculating index will require fixing non-mandatory time frames for different types of cases. Using existing infrastructure and data, index’s indicators can be created to check duration of pendency of case along with percentage of cases that have been delayed and how many cases were disposed in previous year compared to the year before.
Separate administrative cadre: Establishing separate administrative cadre in judicial system to reduce workload on judges. This cadre should report to Chief Justice in each high court to maintain judicial independence.
Use of automation and ICT: High priority should be given to automation process in courts and use of information and communication technology for e-court and case management, including e-management of court schedules and migration of all courts to unified national court application software.
Online real time judicial statistics: Steps should be taken for ensuring availability of online real time judicial statistics for determining the adequacy of judicial manpower and infrastructure to deal with work load of cases. It will enable priority appointment of judges at lower judiciary levels keeping in mind a scientific approach to assessing number of judges needed to tackle pendency problem.
Internationally developed measures: Government must look into and adopt internationally developed measures such as ‘global measures of court performance’, created jointly by Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, Federal Judicial Center (US), National Center for State Courts (US) and Subordinate Courts of Singapore.