HARARE - Chief Justice (CJ) Godfrey Chidyausiku has announced a range of measures to address the rising backlog of cases in the courts.
Speaking during the opening of the 2016 legal year in Harare yesterday, Chidyausiku released stunning data showing the courts have experienced the biggest growth in pending trials, causing massive delays.
The CJ said the registrar of the High Court has indicated that there are more than 40 000 records that have been dormant for three or more years, adding 20 000 of the records are summons of applications that have not been served on the defendants or respondents.
“Some people may not know that they have been sued and are part of the High Court statistics even as I speak,” Chidyausiku bemoaned.
The CJ also expressed concern over the growing Constitutional Court backlog which stands at 146 applicants, urging judges to do more to arrest the backlog.
“If one considers that at best, the Supreme Court can clear 80 cases per year, we need more than one-and-a-half years just to clear the backlog that has accumulated to date,” he said.
He maintained his call for decentralisation of the High Court to other provincial capitals.
“The number of arrests by the police in the provinces is by far exceeding the rate at which the circuit courts are clearing the cases emanating from the provinces,” he said.
Turning to the relationship between the police and the judiciary, Chidyausiku said justice was being delayed due to the discord existing between the two bodies.
“There is need for a greater sharing of statistics in matters of crime and prevalence of crimes to enable the judiciary to respond effectively by establishing enough courts to match the efficiency of the police in effecting arrests and investigating crimes,” Chidyausiku said.
“Currently, there is no requirement for the police to inform the judiciary of the number of arrests that they make over any given period.
“There is no common tracking system to establish where in the system, any report to the police by the citizenry is delaying, and even after the accused person has been formally remanded by the court,” he said.