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Posted at: Sep 13, 2017, 9:42 PM; last updated: Sep 13, 2017, 9:42 PM (IST)

Set up special benches to hear criminal appeals: CJI to HC chief justices

Set up special benches to hear criminal appeals: CJI to HC chief justices
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. — PTI
Satya Prakash
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 13
 
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has asked high court chief justices to constitute special benches on Saturdays for hearing criminal appeals/jail appeals in which legal aid has been provided to the accused/undertrials.
In a letter written to the chief justices of all the 24 high courts, CJI Misra asked them to ensure expeditious disposal of such appeals.
“As you are aware, a large number of criminal appeals/jail appeals are pending in various High Courts. Delay in disposal of these appeals raises question about the efficacy of the administration of justice as a while and criminal justice system in particular,” the letter read.
Noting that the judicial system faced the problem of increasing backlog of cases due to delayed disposal, the CJI said one of the methods to ensure expeditious disposal of such appeals was to identify and dispose of such appeals in which legal aid had been provided at state expenses.
“May I, therefore, impress upon you to explore the possibility of hearing such criminal appeals/jail appeals, in which legal-aid-counsel has been provided, on Saturdays by specially-constituted bench for the purpose, after obtaining consent of the legal-aid counsel and state counsel concerned. This will go a long way in ensuring speedy disposal of criminal appeals/ jail appeals,” Justice Misra wrote.
This is the first major initiative to deal with backlog of criminal cases from Justice Misra who took over as the 45th CJI on August 28.
Almost four million cases are pending in the 24 high courts where 44% of the posts of judges are lying vacant, thanks to the tussle between government and the judiciary over Memorandum of Procedure appointment of judges in the higher judiciary.
Often criminal appeals in serious crime such as murder and rape take 10 years to come up for hearing in high court even as the accused languish in jail.
A bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar recently expressed shock over pendency of criminal appeals for decades. Describing it as a “troubling situation”, the bench had said a solution needed to be found out for speedy disposal of appeals in high courts.
It had sought details of the total number of appeals pending before various high courts from the Registrar General within six weeks. The court was dealing with a petition seeking grant of bail to those convicts whose appeals were unlikely to come up for hearing in the near future. 

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