Five high courts across the country have constituted special benches to hear criminal appeals in cases where the accused has got a lawyer at the expense of a state through the legal aid cell.
These benches have already started functioning in the high courts of Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka, official sources in the Supreme Court told HT.
The move follows a letter from Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra to HC chief justices, pointing to the necessity of giving priority to such cases.
A week after he took over, CJI Misra sent a communiqué to the chief justices asking them make “five-plus zero” a reality.
To achieve the target of hearing appeals not more than five years old, the CJI suggested early hearings to criminal appeals filed directly by inmates languishing in jails.
“Delay in disposal of such appeals raises question about the efficacy of the administration of justice as a whole and the criminal justice system in particular,” read his letter dated September 4.
He recalled suggestions made in the past to fast-track cases in this specified category. Some of the measures included constitution of special courts and working during vacations.
The letter called upon the chief justices to “explore the possibility of hearing such criminal appeals/jail appeals, in which legal aid has been provided, on Saturdays by specifically constituted bench, after obtaining consent of the concerned legal-aid counsel and state counsel”.
As carried in ht on 12/9/2017