Orissa HC reviews its performance in 2021

  • | Saturday | 11th June, 2022

Cuttack, Jun 11 (PTI) The Orissa HC is probably the first High Court in the country to undertake a review of its performance in 2021 to make the judiciary more accountable and goal-oriented.The Orissa High Court recently released the Annual Report, 2021, listing its challenges, main judgement and the problem of docket explosion, aiming to bring transparency and accountability to the system.“The year 2021 was, in more ways than one, a year of transformation for the High Court as well as district judiciary. Technology was used to make the judicial process more transparent and accessible to litigants,” a senior judicial officer of Orissa High Court told PTI on the annual report and its significance.The COVID-19 pandemic situation had changed the style of functioning of the courts in Odisha which has been elaborately placed in the report.In a chapter titled “Introspection and Challenges,” the report mentioned that “…. Substantial progress has been made in many fields, yet there are certain areas where the performance of the judiciary in Odisha appears to have fallen short of expectation.” Undoubtedly, the great challenge to the judiciary is the docket explosion, which is an increase in the pendency of cases, the report said.“While the increase in the institution of cases reflects people’s faith in the judiciary, it also poses challenges,” the report said.At the beginning of 2021, the High Court had a pendency of 1,73,510 cases. In the year, 1,28,943 cases were instituted and 1,05,334 cases were disposed of. At the end of the year, the pendency rose to 1,97,119, the report said.Following the abolition of the Odisha Administrative Tribunal (OAT), around 40,000 cases pending before the OAT were transferred to the High Court, adding to the pendency.This apart, all service-related cases that were earlier being filed in the OAT, are now being filed in the High Court. The long pendency of cases has also been a feature of the District Courts, the report said.On its performance during 2021, the report said at the beginning of the year, there were 305 cases pending for 40 years. In the year, 99 more cases were added to the list of 40-year-old cases. As many as 240 such cases were disposed of during the year at the end of the year, and 164 cases that were 40-year old were pending in District Courts.An analysis revealed that the major cause of such pendency, at least in the District Courts, is the operation of stay orders by the higher courts.In 2021, there was a huge loss of working days in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the High Court tried to keep courts functioning even during the lockdowns and the shutdowns, it was a real challenge for the District Courts.On average 67.20 days were lost in the District Courts due to COVID-19. This apart, abstention from court work by the local Bar Associations on various other issues, including the death of Advocates, raising of demands, and others also cause an average loss of 15.69 working days, the report said.The report also dealt with the judge-population ratio. As against a pendency of 1,97,119 cases in the High Court, there are only 21 judges (in 2021).“Carrying a profound grief in our hearts for the loss of loved ones we set out to carry on business as usual to the best of our abilities,” the report prepared by the chairman and members of the committee of the High Court comprising Justice BP Routray, Justice K R Mohapatra and Justice Sashikanta Mishra, said.Chief Justice of Orissa High Court S Muralidhar wrote in the report: “The vision of the Odisha judiciary is that of a democratic, modern, dynamic and responsive institution that works to enforce the rule of law and guarantee the protection and enforcement of the rights to the people under our Constitution.” The Annual Report, 2021 is the second such publication after 2015 by the High Court of Orissa. PTI AAM MM MM

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