Patna HC Expresses Concern After Data Shows More Than 7 Lakh Cases Pending Due To Non-Availability Of Counsel
The Patna High Court has expressed concern over the data showing that 7,20,621 cases are pending because of non-availability of counsel.
In order to deal with this concern, the Court has directed the Member Secretary, Bihar State Legal Services Authority to seek reports as regards such criminal cases, which are pending because of non-availability of counsel.
“…it is mentioned that there are 720621 cases pending because of non-availability of counsel. In order to deal with the said item, we direct the Member Secretary, Bihar State Legal Services Authority to seek reports through the respective Secretaries of the District Legal Service Authorities as regards such criminal cases, which are pending because of non-availability of learned counsel.”, Acting Chief Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Partha Sarthy directed.
The Court further directed Bihar State Legal Services Authority to thereafter compile the figures received from the District Legal Service Authorities to present before the Court.
“It goes without saying that if any District Legal Service Authority finds, while preparing the data for the purpose of implementation of the present order, that a criminal case is pending because of non-availability of a counsel for the accused, it shall be required to provide such accused persons necessary legal aid.”, the Court ordered.
The Court made these observations while dealing with a public interest litigation, seeking effective implementation of Chapter-XXI-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which deals with disposal of the criminal cases through plea bargaining.
Advocate Shama Sinha appeared for the petitioner whereas Advocate General P.K.Sahi appeared for the State and K.N. Singh, Additional Solicitor General appeared for Union of India.
The counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, placed before the Court the present status of the data available at National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), as regards the number of cases pending against various heads.
The count of cases pending due to the non-availability of counsel stood at the highest.
The Court remarked the data to be ‘truly alarming.’
While noting the count of cases where the parties are not interested in pursuing the matters and cases have become infructuous, the Court directed thus-
“The Chairpersons of all the District Legal Services Authorities are directed firstly to examine the cases which are pending because the parties have lost interest and they have become infructuous. They shall thereafter take immediate steps to do the needful. They shall thereafter communicate the figures, so obtained by them, to the Member Secretary, Bihar State Legal Services Authority, Patna. Bihar State Legal Services Authority shall in its report submit a composite statement of such cases, i.e., cases which have become infructuous for any reason in the opinion of the concerned Chairperson of the District Legal Service Authority.”
The Court also directed the District Judges of the concerned Judgeships to prepare reports giving the details of such Criminal cases which are pending since 2005 and before.
The Court posted the matter to March 3 for further hearing.
Cause Title- Kaushik Ranjan v. State of Bihar