Lawyers can practise in all courts soon: Veerappa Moily

J VENKATESAN

Section 30 of Advocates Act will be notified 50 years after Act came into force

Fifty years after the Advocates Act, 1961, was enacted, the Centre has decided to notify Section 30 of this Act to enable advocates to practise as a matter of right in all courts, tribunals or any quasi-judicial authority.

This provision was not notified when the Act came into force.

Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily told The Hindu that the long-pending demands of the lawyers had been conceded, and he had passed appropriate orders for notifying this Section early next week.

Section 30 of the Advocates Act says: “Right of advocates to practice: Subject to the provisions of this Act, every advocate shall be entitled as of right to practise throughout the territories to which this Act extends; in all courts including the Supreme Court; before any tribunal or person legally authorised to take evidence; and before any other authority or person before whom such advocate is by or under any law for the time being in force entitled to practice.”

Mr. Moily said: “I traced the file relating to this provision. For some reasons this Section remained in the Statute without being notified. I decided to notify this Section and signed necessary orders. The notification is expected to be issued either on June 7 or 8.”

Expressing satisfaction over the progress in the implementation of ‘vision statement’ launched in October 2009, he said under the programme to be launched from July 1, about 40 per cent of the petty cases pending in various courts were to be disposed of in six months through Lok Adalats and morning/evening courts.

He said the 13th Finance Commission provided Rs. 5,000 crore for support to the judiciary and the first instalment of Rs. 1,000 crore had already been released for 2010-2011. The Finance Commission envisaged that all subordinate courts could have extended court hours by hiring retired judges or giving allowances to incumbent judges to dispose of petty cases.

Such courts, he said, were to be established at a cost of Rs. 3.5 lakh each and they were expected to dispose of 225 lakh minor cases annually. In addition Lok Adalats were expected to dispose of 15 lakh a year and by 2015, a total of 75 lakh cases would be disposed of by Lok Adalats.

Mr. Moily said he had written to the Chief Justices of various High Courts underlining the need for reducing the pendency of cases in courts from 15 to three years by 2012. He said he had asked the CJs to launch the campaign from July by fixing targets and types of cases for disposal.

He had suggested to them to follow summary procedure as allowed by law, plea bargaining and compounding of cases to reduce the caseload in courts.

On the progress in computerisation of courts, he said: “The government is implementing a Central sector scheme for computerisation of the District and subordinate courts [e-courts project] in the country and for upgradation of the Information and Communication Technology infrastructure of the Supreme Court and High Courts including video-conferencing facilities.”

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CJI deferred setting up of constitution bench

New Delhi, Jun 5 (PTI)

Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia has deferred twice the setting up of a Constitution Bench on whether disclosure of correspondence between constitutional authorities on the appointment of judges amounts to interference in the independence of judiciary.

The apex court, in response to an RTI application, has said the file for the setting up of Constitution Bench, as directed by a Bench, on the issue was placed before the Chief Justice of India on December 8, 2010 and January 21, 2011 but on both occasions he directed it to be placed later.

The Supreme Court, in the reply provided to activist S C Agrawal, stated, “The matter was placed before the Chief Justice of India on December 8, 2010. The Chief Justice of India asked the Registrar to place the matter after holidays.”

“After holidays the matter was again placed before Chief Justice of India on January 21, 2011. The Chief Justice of India asked Registrar to place the matter again after holidays,” it said.

The case relates to a petition before the apex court challenging the orders of the Central Information Commission directing disclosure of communication between the Government and Chief Justice of India on the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and superceding of some High Court Chief Judges in the process.

The Bench of Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar in an order on November 26, 2010 had directed to apex court Registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice of India for constitution of a Bench of appropriate strength as the questions raised required “interpretation of Constitution”.

Agrawal in an RTI application sought to know from the apex court whether the directions were followed.

The Bench while hearing the appeal of its Secretary General against the order of the CIC to disclose the correspondence between CJI and Government, had identified three core issues to be decided by a Constitution Bench.

First, whether independence of judiciary demands that such a communication be prohibited from disclosure and whether furnishing it to an RTI applicant amounts to interference in functioning of the judiciary.

Secondly, whether the information cannot be furnished to avoid any erosion in the credibility of the decisions and to ensure a free and frank expression of honest opinion by all the constitutional functionaries, which is essential for effective consultation and for taking the right decision.

Thirdly, whether the information sought is exempt under provisions of the Right to Information Act.  After the decision, Agrawal filed fresh RTI application seeking to know whether the directives to place file before the CJI, in this regard, have been followed or not. The Supreme Court registry refused the disclosure saying it related to an in-house procedure of a court and cannot be made public. The matter went to CIC which directed that it should be disclosed as it is an administrative matter.