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Judicial reforms in India

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A strong and independent judiciary is very important for the growth of India. Since a speedy and efficient system are the very essence of society. But Indian judiciary, by its very nature has become very slow and inefficient. Besides, our laws and their interpretation has led to enormous misery for the litigants and forced people to look for other alternatives.

Problems in Judiciary

Judicial backlog

Huge backlog of cases are proving to be the primary problem for judiciary. According to figures compiled by the ministry of law, the Supreme Court had 62,791 pending cases at the end of 2014. The figures went down to 59,272 in December, 2015. But at the end of 2016, the pendency in the Supreme Court went up to 62,537. The ministry also highlighted that according to latest data provided by the SC, as on July 17, 2017, the pending cases have been pegged at 58,438. These include 48,772 civil and 9,666 criminal cases. Similar is the case with the 24 high courts of the country where pending cases were pegged at 41.52 lakh at the end of 2014. In December, 2015, the pendency went down to 38.70 lakh. But at the end of 2016, the cases went up to 40.15 lakh, but were less than the pendency in 2014. But in the subordinate courts which are the primary nervous system of the country’s judicial system — the pendency of cases has gone up in the last four years.

Shortage of judges

Speedy disposal of cases can met with allotment of new judges. Since the high courts has a shortage of 413 judges as on September 1 (2015). While the approved strength is 1,079, around 666 judges are working through the country. But the sub ordinate courts have huge shortage, though they gave an approved strength of nearly 20,000 judicial officers is short of 4,937 judicial officers. Shortage of judges are attributed as the big hindrance for speed disposal of cases. Indian Judiciary Annual Report 2015-2016’ and ‘Subordinate Courts of India: A Report on Access to Justice 2016’-- which also highlighted that nearly 15,000 more judges would be required in next three year to overcome million cases.

Judicial corruption

Corruption in Indian judiciary is common. According to various survery, corruption is very pervasive throughout the country, over 45 per cent of Indians believe the judiciary is corrupt. Not only is corruption rampant in the lower courts, some have alleged that this corruption reaches the highest levels which is greatly damaging to the judicial system. Eight years ago, a former Law Minister declared that eight of sixteen former Chief Justices of India (CJI) were corrupt. Four years agoa former Supreme Court judge alleged that three former CJIs made “improper compromises” to let a corrupt High Court judge continue in office. Sadly, the Indian judiciary has shown a fondness to respond to every message or comment from the executive or the legislature or even political establishment as an attack on judiciary.

Judicial overreach

For the past few years, the functioning of the Judiciary has recently come under considerable attack, particularly from the Legislative assemblies. The law makers feel that courts are crossing their limits or exceeding their authority in interpreting the law. They have termed such actions as an extra constitutional lawmaking body’s over reach. Some examples are, the Supreme Court has ruled that operators with cancelled 2G licences should stop services. When there was wide spread allegation about the scam, the Supreme Court immediately banned iron ore mining in Karnataka and Goa. Not just the ban the mines, Gujarat High Court went one step ahead by ordering that all new vehicles registered in the state should run on compressed natural gas. This act termed as overreach into executive body’s decision. Some are of the opinion that the courts have moved far beyond the function assigned to them under the Constitutions division of responsibilities among the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

Why we need reforms?

Independence of the judiciary is directly linked with human rights and liberties of the society. Rights, decision and liberties would be reduced to the level of no more than just laws, when they are not enforced by courts. So, the judicial systems must be safeguarded, protected, strengthened and streamlined right from the bottom. So, freedom to operate independence of the judiciary is an indispensable condition for keeping alive the rights of the citizens. The real test of the independence of the judiciary arises when times are abnormal or judicial process is used to achieve political objectives. At such times judiciary is itself on trial. Another direction in which the judiciary faces threat is from within. If the Indian judiciary is to enjoy the confidence of the people, it could be achieved only by dedicated and conscientious work.

Delay in disposal of cases by the courts frustrates the purpose of justice the judiciary is facing the threat of mount¬ing arrears and long delays. The system can yield results only if we abide by the norms of the system. Delay causes dismay, and creates disillusionment in, all those who knock at the doors of the courts.

What are the solutions?

it is urgent to bring in certain judicial reforms in our country. It is not just important for social welfare, but also economic welfare as a sound and efficient dispute resolution and justice delivery system will attract more foreign investors as well.

It’s time that the judiciary must take some strong steps to ensure that the system as a whole is working expeditiously, for example vacations must be reduced to a week in Subordinate Courts as well as in Higher Courts. There is a need to increase the time of everyday working of the courts, at least by half an hour. The adjournments must be granted strictly in accordance with the provisions of ‘Order 17 of the Civil Procedure Code’ in order to avoid unnecessary delay.

With regard to the judicial reforms, it is necessary to follow the recommendations of 230th and 245th Law Commission Report as well. Also, it is important for courts to understand that certain types of cases be tried as soon as possible like in rape cases, the victim must not wait for 10-20 years for justice, in terrorism cases where the chances of prosecuting innocents are high due to pressure on police to act promptly, the courts must try such cases as soon as possible so that the State itself doesn’t give birth to victims as mentioned above while providing justice to many other victims. When today lack of professional ethics is a big problem that even the Bar itself is facing, in legal education, one just not needs to be taught what law is but also, how it has to be practised honestly and ethically, is an urgent judicial reform needed today

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