A district court in Uttar Pradesh’s Kaushambi completed a murder trial in 22 days and sentenced the accused to life in jail, an uncommon event in a nation where cases move on for decades.

Police registered an incident of killing a person identified as Shivbabu Pasi for killing an elderly woman in December 2016 over a minor dispute. Charges were filed on February 2 and trial started on April 14.

The process of listening to the witnesses concluded on April 27 and two days later, Shivbabu’s group provided his defence.

District judge Dilip Singh Yadav found guilty the accused on May 5 and sentenced him to life imprisonment the next day. He also implemented a penalty of Rs 2000.

“The trial was carried out on priority level and speedy justice was delivered to the complainant,” said government counsel Vinay Yadav. “Honest and instant police investigation helped in a speedy trial which involved at least 14 witnesses.”

Such a speedy trial is unusual in India where a lot more than 30 million cases are pending ahead of the courts due to frequent delays, witnesses turning hostile and a crippling shortage of judges.

Uttar Pradesh tops the country this kind of pendency – a backlog greater than five million cases – with just 10 judges per million populations.

The crisis may be the worst in lower cases where significantly more than 4,000 judge positions are vacant, forcing the government to set up fast-track cases. But the majority of experts fear a focus on speedy trials can erode the rigour of this process and increase the chance of miscarriage of justice, particularly in the lower courts.

17174