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Evening courts to clear legal backlog



Bhubaneswar, July 6: The state cabinet today decided to set up four new evening courts in the state capital for speedy disposal of a long list of pending cases.

Law department sources informed that there are nearly 1,13,064 cases pending in different courts of the city.

These include 90,911 criminal cases, 4,573 junior first class magistrate cases, 12,500 civil cases, 5,000 trial court cases and 800 sessions court cases.

The evening courts would sit at the existing court buildings and would function from 6.15pm to 8.15pm on official working days.

No additional recruitment would be made for this. Evening courts would run with the existing staff, who would be provided extra 20 per cent of their current salary.

This process would be completed by March 31, 2011.

The Cabinet today approved the proposal for setting up the evening courts and it was decided that four of them would come up on an experimental basis at Bhubaneswar. If these four proved successful, the government would set up more in other districts.

Gujarat was the first state to set up evening courts to clear the backlog of cases at the lower court level. The first such courts were inaugurated by then Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal on November 14, 2006. Some 27 of them were initially set up. The numbers have since gone up.

The next state to follow suit was Tamil Nadu. Since then several states such as Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi have set up evening courts for decreasing the workload of the courts.

Several others such as Karnataka, Assam and Kerala are also planning to set up evening shifts for their courts.

In some states retired personnel and new staff have also been recruited to man them. However, most states usually offer a maximum of 30 per cent of the basic salary as an incentive to sit for these two extra hours.

Gujarat had once sought a Rs 5 crore grant for these courts from the Centre but was turned away on the ground that administration of justice was a state subject. States are hence expected to pick up the tab for such courts.

The proposal for evening courts to reduce pendency and delay was first mooted in the Law Commission of India’s 125th report. It was accepted by the joint conference of state chief ministers and chief justices on September 18, 2004.

These courts mostly deal with petty offences and cheque-bounce cases. In Delhi for example, most of these cases deal with cheque-bouncing. In Punjab they also deal with motor vehicle cases.

In Gujarat, they deal with bootlegging, theft, property and dowry cases as well.

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