Supreme Court Issues 12 Directions for Speedy Trial of Civil Cases

Supreme Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: October 21, 2023 at 16:22 IST

Expressing serious concerns over the backlog of cases in the country, the Supreme Court has issued a set of 12 directions to expedite case disposal. These directives are aimed at ensuring that civil cases are processed more swiftly. The bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar has outlined the following directions:

  1. All district and taluka courts must ensure the timely execution of summons, adhering to the provisions of Order V Rule (2) of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). Principal District Judges will monitor this process, collect statistics, and present them to the High Court committee for review.
  2. District and taluka courts should ensure the filing of a written statement within the prescribed period as per Order VIII Rule 1, preferably within 30 days. Any extension beyond this period should be justified in writing.
  3. After completing the pleadings, parties should be called to record admissions and denials, and the court shall direct them to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. If the parties choose ADR, the court should set a date for their appearance before the ADR forum. If ADR is not successful, the trial should commence promptly on the next scheduled date.
  4. If parties fail to opt for ADR, the court should frame the issues for determination within one week, preferably in an open court.
  5. Trial dates should be set in consultation with the advocates representing the parties, allowing them to adjust their schedules. Once a trial date is fixed, it should proceed on a day-to-day basis whenever possible.
  6. Trial judges in district and taluka courts should maintain a diary to ensure that the number of cases scheduled for trial each day can be reasonably handled, reducing the need for adjournments.
  7. Counsel for the parties should be familiar with the provisions of Order XI and Order XII to narrow down the scope of disputes. Bar Associations and Bar Councils are encouraged to conduct periodic refresher courses.
  8. Trial courts must diligently comply with the provisions of Rule 1 of Order XVII, ensuring that trials proceed from day to day as specified in the rule’s proviso.
  9. Courts should enforce the provisions for the payment of costs to discourage adjournments and compensate the opposing party in the event of an adjournment.
  10. After the trial, oral arguments should be heard immediately and continuously, and judgments should be pronounced within the stipulated period under Order XX of the CPC.
  11. Each presiding officer should forward statistics on cases pending in their court for more than 5 years to the Principal District Judge every month. The Principal District Judge will compile and forward this information to the review committee established by the respective High Courts for necessary action.
  12. Committees established by the Chief Justices of the respective States should meet at least once every two months to direct corrective measures for concerned courts and monitor old cases, especially those pending for more than 5 years.

The Supreme Court has instructed the Secretary General to circulate this judgment to all high courts. The bench has also made it clear that additional directions may be issued in the future to further improve the judicial process.

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