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Terming as 'grossly inadequate' the current judge to population ratio, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured Chief Ministers of more central funds for creation of infrastructure for subordinate judiciary to address the issue of pendency of over three crore cases.
"The judge to population ratio at the current level of 15.5 judges per million is indeed grossly inadequate. We need to alter this equation so as to address the problems of pendency and delays in disposal of cases," he said.
Singh was speaking at a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices presided over by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir.
The Prime Minister said he fully agreed with Kabir that there was a need to significantly enhance the number of judges and wanted the Chief Ministers to take initiative in this regard.
He noted that over three crore cases were pending in various courts across the country of which 26 per cent were more than five years old.
"On behalf of the Central Government, I would like to assure this august gathering that we would increase appropriately the quantum of funding for the scheme under which we provide support to the State governments for creation of infrastructure for subordinate judiciary," Singh said.
He said the Centre would engage with the 14th Finance Commission for devolution of funds to the State governments specifically for the judicial sector and also request it to earmark funds for establishing fast-track courts for speedy trials not only in cases of heinous crimes but also in offences against the elderly, women and children.
In a note of caution, Singh said voice of sanity and logic should not be suborned to momentary impulses amid growing demand for judicial reforms.
"At a time when the demand for judicial reforms and change in the legal processes has acquired a new urgency, we must ensure that the voice of sanity and logic is not suborned to the momentary impulses of the day," the Prime Minister said.