Sunday, May 20, 2007

[NDTV] Panel to assess judicial impact of new laws

Sunetra Choudhury

It's easier said than done - the homily couldn't be more true when it comes to new laws.

And when the Supreme Court defined ragging as a crime on Wednesday, it added to the burden of pending litigation.

Legal experts are expecting a rush of FIRs and complaints in the new admission season.

''There is just too much pressure for instance, the changes in the motor vehicles act, have justincreased litigation for us. When domestic violence law came, again, there was a lot of pressure, many many courts needed which aren't there,'' said Naveen Matta, Delhi lawyer

But now, for the first time in India's legal history, an attempt is being made to understand the burden of each new law.

A three-member panel will assess the judicial impact of such legislation and work out just what it will take to implement it.

They will work out the cost and the number of courts and workforce needed to hear the new cases.

''They amended just Section 138 of the Negotiable Act in 2002 that deals with bouncing cheques. That single change led to 40 lakh new cases and nobody could cope. Courts were reduced to money recovering agents,'' said Prof Madhav Menon, Council member.

The council plans to create a system that will absorb the shock of extra work that new laws create, and hopefully, reduce the long list of pending cases in the Indian courts.

At the moment, the only way courts prepare for a new law is to put a copy of it in the court library. Lawyers say that they are not expecting any overnight answers from the council but at least, a beginning has been made.

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