An Emerging Trend in Judiciary: Court Management

Article for Blog Post Writing Competition 2011 | by Aniket Pandey


May 30th, 20116:42 pm


Introduction

The introduction of management practices in the judiciary has been a topic of discussion for quite some time now. During this period, many ideas have been mooted to tackle the enormous backlog of pending cases. While some of these ideas were implemented, others did not cross the stage of discussion and debate. As time has changed so does the role of Judiciary in imparting justice, eventually role of judiciary has gone multi-disciplinary as now it’s time to manage courts in a way which consequently results in efficiency and increased potential to impart justice.

Judges as managers

A judge is the person in charge of a Court. Barring any unforeseen event, the litigation before a judge has to be controlled by him. What is important in this regard is time management. It is for the judge to decide, for example, how many cases should be scheduled for hearing on any given day; how much time has to be granted for completing the procedural formalities such as completion of pleadings; how many adjournments if any, should be granted and how much time has to be allotted for the hearing of a case. Systematic and proper management of time in respect of each case will go a long way in reducing the laws delays. A judge must also determine the general complexity of a case so that the progress of a case can be effectively managed. For example, Rule 1800 of the California Rules of Court defines a complex case.

Subdivision (a) refers toan action as being complex if it:

“…requires exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties and the counsel.”

Subdivision (b) then lists out a set of factors which would require to be taken into account for determining if a case is complex or not. A list of cases provisionally designated as complex cases is the subject matter of subdivision;

(c) Cases such as environmental or toxic tort claims and those generally involving many parties are treated as complex unless the judge determines otherwise. Depending upon the ‘complexity’ of a case, the judge can decide what tasks to delegate to a subordinate judicial officer, including exploring the possibility of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Time and effort have to be invested in case management so that the progress of litigation is effectively monitored. Apart from anything else, the investment enables a judge (rather than the lawyer or litigant) to take control of the case. A judge can, thereby, optimally utilize his time for performing core judicial functions for effective dispute resolution, rather than spend it on peripheral issues, which can be dealt with by others.

In this context, it bears mention that as a management exercise, an experiment with a judge’s clerk has been initiated in the Delhi High Court. A judge’s clerk is expected to assist a judge in effectively managing his administrative and judicial duties. He is either a fresh law graduate (enthusiasm) or a freshly recruited judicial officer (experience). The role of a judge’s clerk in case management has been identified and it includes preparing a brief of the cases for the judge, highlighting the issues involved in a case and generally assisting a judge in his research for the purposes of writing a judgment.

For any management system to succeed and this equally applies to Court management, it is essential to identify the stakeholders. This is not particularly difficult so far as the judicial system is concerned. There are only four players in any judicial system. They are (not necessarily in order of importance):

Each of these stakeholders has specific role to play for ensuring the success of case management and Court administration. Court Registry as a participant Court management cannot succeed without the unstinted support of the Court staff and it’s Registry. They are the backbone of the system and the administrative burden really falls on them. All the papers pertaining to a case from the initial stage of filing a case to the supply of a certified copy of the judgments passes through their hands. They are responsible not only for all the documentation but also giving effect to miscellaneous orders passed by the Court. The efficiency of a Court depends upon them, much more than anyone would care to admit.

While there may be complaints of ‘manpower shortage’ in so far as judges are concerned, no one has yet complained about a shortage of Court staff. Is it not possible to utilize their expertise, if not their sheer numbers, to improve the working of the Court administration? Other procedural tasks, which are not strictly administrative, but are related to judicial functions, can be delegated to the Court staff by investing them with limited judicial functions. Subordinate judicial officers can perform miscellaneous tasks, including identification of issues, attempting to limit disputes arising out of the pleadings and actively participating in alternative dispute resolution systems. If nothing else, this makes them participative functionaries in the overall process of dispensing quick justice, and recognizes their status as one of the stakeholders in the judicial system

Court Management

Efficiency is to be achieved on the administrative side also. Delay on the administrative side adds to the arrears. Most of the Officers think that the responsibility is only in respect of judicial work and they do not take interest in the administration. Some of the Officers who are excellent in judicial work hardly take interest on the administrative side. As you cannot afford a shallow performance in the judicial work, officers cannot avoid administrative responsibility.

Judges must watch copyist establishments

    a. Judges must ensure that Copy Applications are complied with then and there. And see that there is no accumulation/pendency of Copy Applications. Officer must periodically verify ‘A’ & ‘B’ Registers. They should also see that there is no delay in compliance of Copy Applications.
    b. When additional stamp papers are called for is not deposited, after giving time Copy Application is struck off. One year time is prescribed for disposal of struck off Copy Applications.
    c.In Magistrate Courts number of cases is pending for non supply of Sec.207 Cr.P.C. copies. Judges must see that there is no delay in this aspect.
    d. Norms for Copyist is 84,000 words per month. Always insist that Copyist do at least 1,25,000 – 1,50,000 words per month.

They should also keep an eye over the work done by copyists.

Record section

As District Judges, you must take all steps for destruction of records. Ensure that periodical consignments are to be sent to the Central Record. They must periodically check prompt sending of consignment from the Courts in your Unit. Every Summer Vacations, Christmas and Dashehra

To be fully utilized for destruction of records in the Central Record. Chief Judicial Magistrates must ensure that Magistrates in your Unit are taking steps for destruction of records by publication and thereby taking steps for disposal. District Judges/Chief Judicial Magistrates must ensure that the records are destroyed periodically. This is to be one of the important area of concentration.

Need for training the staff

Not only that the Judges are to be trained, there is need for training the staff members also. There is no systematic training for the staff members in the Subordinate Judiciary. Presently, we do not have systematic training for staff members. For the system to be efficient, systematic training of staff members is very much essential. As District Judges can organize such trainings within the Districts using the services of Judicial Officers and Head Ministerial Officers, retired staff etc. By imparting in-service training and continuous learning, the staff members are motivated and consequently take them along in the judicial reform we all foresee.

Efficient in house management and cleanliness

 Cleanliness in and around the Court premises and maintain the Court premises neatly.

 See that the Court men meant for cleaning the Court are first used for Court purpose and then only could be used for residence of the Officer.

 Take personal interest in ensuring cleanliness and maintaining at least a small garden.

Electricity

 There has to be thrift in usage of electricity.

 Where there is huge billing of electricity, all possible steps are to be taken to conserve the electricity and to reduce the high billing.

All that is required is to change the mindsets, each and every one of the judicial officer to make a beginning by making everyone at all level responsible for implementation.

Bibliography

1. COURT MANAGEMENT & ADMINISTRATIVE SKILS, Justice R.Banumathi. Judge., High Court, Madras

2. CASE MANAGEMENT AND COURT ADMINISTRATION Justice Madan B. Lokur Judge, Delhi High Court

3.  CASE MANAGEMENT AND ITS ADVANTAGES By Justice M. Jagannadha Rao

Websites

  1. http://www.hcmadras.tn.nic.in/jacademy/articles/Co… >
  2. http://www.pon.nic.in/rti/judicial/chapter3.pdf >

 

Article by-

Aniket Pandey

BBA(LLB) Corporate laws

University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun

[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]

Enter your Email Address to Get Similar Articles in your Inbox Free!

  

MightyLaws is not responsible or liable for the views expressed by the authors. The articles are general information and should not be treated as legal advice. Please read the Disclaimer for further clarifications.