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High Courts to hear cases daily

Cabinet has decided to make it compulsory to hear all cases in the High Courts on a daily basis.

Justice Minister, Thalatha Athukorala has proposed that amending Section 263 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No 15 of 1979 to make this provision mandatory, would be the best method to resolve the massive backlog of cases in the High Courts.

At present, the section only states that cases with a jury or without a jury be held every day as far as practical. This lax has resulted in many postponements.

Minister Athukorala noted in her Cabinet Paper that at the end of 2015, there were 16,960 cases pending in the High Courts. The total number of cases pending in the High Courts at the end of 2016 was 16,463 and by September 2017, the number amounted to 17,565.

At present there is a circular issued by the Judicial Services Commission to all judges asking that trials over five years be held every day.

But the proposed amendment would make it easier for all cases. The above section would be sent to the Legal Draftsman for amendment and soon submitted for Parliamentary approval.