5000 cases pending at family court

H/l: 5,000 cases pending, just three judges left: Family court in trouble

AADITI JATHAR LAKADE
Posted: Tuesday , Jan 05, 2010

Pune: With about 5,000 cases pending and another 3,500 new cases likely to be registered this year, shortage of judges at the Pune family court is fast becoming a big issue. Six months back, two court judges were transferred out of Pune District Family Court. The court now is left with just three.

Nirmala, who had filed her divorce petition in August 2003, said: “Six years have already gone by. We were at the stage of settling the maintenance amount. But, there has been no hearing on the case since May and the case keeps getting further dates. I feel there will be no hearing on the case till new judges are appointed.”

Like Nirmala, there are several other women awaiting their maintenance amount. Many need the money to meet their daily requirements. “These women have already left their husbands’ homes; their own relatives are unwilling or incapable of supporting them financially. They all are desperate for a speedy verdict,” said advocate Asunta Pardhe, a family court lawyer.

The Pune District Family Court has a total of five courtrooms. “Two judges — Vinay Borikar and Aruna Faraswani—¿ were transferred in July 2009 and August 2009 respectively. Since then no new judge has been appointed. Ideally, appointment should be made within a month,” said advocate Rekha Koratkar, president of Pune Family Court Lawyers’ Association. The remaining three judges have to handle innumerable cases, and the number keeps increasing.

According to family court lawyers, a judge has to hear about 100 cases a day to cope with the load, making it impossible to hear every witness, she said. Last month, about 80 family court lawyers had sent appeals to the High Court to fill the vacancies at the earliest. The family court lawyers are not allowed to avail of Diwali and Christmas vacations. “A decision for speedy disposal of family court cases was taken earlier. But delay in appointment of judges stands in the way,” Koratkar said. Family court lawyers say that judges should hear only the ‘ready board’ and not the ‘unready board’. ‘Ready board’ is a technical term for matters that have reached the stage of trials.

“The ‘unready board’ includes calculating the maintenance, finalising the recovery amount and so on. Judges’ time is wasted in this work, which can also be done by the registrars, like those in the civil court. If the procedure is amended and judges are relieved of the work, it would help them focus on the crucial case judgements,” Koratkar said.

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