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Govt mulls separate cadre of officers to manage lower courts

New Delhi: Concerned over increasing number of pending cases in courts, the government is mulling to 'take away' administrative powers from judges by creating a separate permanent cadre of administrators for court administration, court management, court financing, etc.
However, the government has sought views/suggestions from chief justices of all high courts before discussion of modalities and other issues in this matter.
Recently, a letter was sent to chief justices of all high courts in this regard by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. In the letter, the minister said, "It has been observed that judges/judicial officers of high courts, district and subordinate courts usually hesitate to take financial decisions due to lack of sound capacity building in the field of financial management sector.
"A dedicated cadre would be created to handle administrative works of courts which would help in offloading the 'extra burden' on judges. Given that pending cases are on the rise, the move is aimed at speeding up court hearing process to reduce the pendency," a senior official said.
"It's just an initiative to keep judges/judicial officers free from administrative, managerial and financial works so that they can devote more time on court hearings. This is not like 'snatching' their powers," the official said, adding that as per the proposal, court managers would be appointed to assist judges in streamlining court administrative works.
Citing the 13th Finance Commission allocation of Rs 300 crore for the appointment of court managers for the period 2010-2015, Prasad in his letter said, "The initiative failed to achieve the desired results as only Rs 100 crore sanctioned amount was released, and out of that only about Rs 14 crore was utilised."
The letter stated that recruitment on a contract basis, low remuneration package, reluctance on the part of the judiciary to accept court managers to participate in judiciary process had been identified as some of the reasons to not attract suitable candidates.
During a meeting of chief justices held in April 2013, it was decided that National and State Judicial Academies would take steps for imparting training to judicial services on managerial skills, the letter said, adding that it was also agreed that high courts may consider sending judicial officers in batches to Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for imparting such training. Over three crore court cases are pending across the country and out of which 80 percent cases are pending in district courts, which are short of nearly 5,000 judicial officers.
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