Evening courts to begin in Delhi July 1June 21st, 2008 - 10:42 am ICT by IANS
By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Come July 1 and eight magistrates’ courts here will begin functioning for two hours every evening in an attempt to clear the staggering 897,373 cases that have piled up. The sittings will be held in all the four district courts at Tis Hazari, Patiala House, Rohini and Karkardooma and officials hope this will lead to the quick disposal of around 300,000 cases in the initial phase.
“Initially two metropolitan magistrates (in each of the courts) will hear cases in the evening but the number will soon be increased. The system will work on a rotational basis,” said an official involved with the project.
The courts will operate from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. on all working days.
“The evening courts not only mean additional working hours but introduce a system which enables the common man to seek justice without wasting his working hours during the day,” the official pointed out.
“There will be no added burden on the exchequer given that the existing infrastructure will be utilised,” he added.
The concept of evening courts was first mooted at the conference of chief ministers and chief justices of high courts here last year, with Gujarat and Tamil Nadu having already taken the lead in the matter.
The legal community is, however, divided on the issue.
“If we attend court proceedings in morning as well as in evening, then when we will get the time to prepare for our cases?” wondered advocate K.K. Jha.
The court staff would work on a shift basis but this luxury would not be available to lawyers, he pointed out.
Another lawyer, Rajiv Sinha, also opposed the project, saying: “It’s unethical. How can we work 24 hours a day?”
Earlier this year, Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj in written reply in the Lok Sabha, had stated: “Apart from setting up evening courts, we have requested the high courts to increase their working hours by 30 minutes or to reduce the number of holidays.
“It is up to the respective chief justices to take action in this regard.”
Gujarat was the first to introduce evening courts in November 2006 and the response was overwhelming.