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Indian Judicial system, can the poor expect fair Judgement?

Indian judiciary is one of the highly respected systems in the world. It has a very long known heritage of being immune, independent and impartial. In a country, that is the world's largest democracy and the hub of the world's second largest population, it is a herculean task to provide equity and fairness in all aspects of judgement without being partial. This is been guaranteed through our powerful constitution which aptly defines the role of our jurisprudence.

Independent and Impartial Judiciary

Like any other constitutional set up, judiciary has gone through the necessary up-gradation and reformation process owing to the need and time. At the same time it has also faced and faces challenges on not being fair to all. It is a sad truth that today's common man has doubts on judiciary being partial to the rich. The famous judge Clifford Wallace states 'Judicial corruption certainly exists, I know of no country that is completely free of corruption with its insidious effect of undermining the rule of law.' When we read this quote along with Plato's century old saying 'Everywhere there is one principle of justice, which is the interest of the stronger', we do have reasons to be suspicious about the immunity of our jurisprudence. The way some courts handle the cases reinforces this beliefs. For example, the recent observation of Madras High Court on a rape case that the victim could consider compromising with the rapist for the settlement of the case was one of the controversial statements from the judiciary in the recent times. Another incident in Kerala where there is a girl who committed suicide for not granting educational loan from a bank, the lower court supported the arrest of bank's assistant manager when the manager went hiding. The local media was also involved in influencing the court's verdict to some extent. Later the Supreme Court denounced his arrest but by the time he has served one month in jail. Though there are many such incidents which question the actions of judges being influenced by media and stronger section of the public, there are also commendable verdicts on cases like celebrity actor Salman Khan's hit and run, Sahara chief Subrato Roy etc which clearly states Indian judiciary is still impartial and it still ensures separation from the powerful executive.

Delay in Pronouncement of Judgement

Another major criticism Indian judiciary face today is the considerable delay in judgement. Like most of the world's judiciary systems' motto Indian judiciary too upholds Sir William Blackstone's thought 'better that ten guilty persons escape than that of innocent suffer'. I personally connect this to be the reason for the time the court takes to announce the verdict, but it has to be noted that delayed justice is equivalent to denial of justice. It is highly appreciable from the part of Supreme Court that in the last three years the number of pending cases in the Supreme Court has been reduced from 1lakh to 20,000. It is a positive change. Likewise there should be other reformation processes such as transparency in the appointment process of judges, periodic evaluation of performance of judges and lawyers, adequate changes in lawyers' and courts' fee structure for being affordable to economically poor section of people, filling the appalling number of vacant posts of judges in various courts and rescheduling the working days and shifts of judges (In a year Supreme court judges work for 180 days and High court judges for 210 days) to reduce the quantity of pending cases and judiciary being open to criticism (The notable writer Arundhati Roy's one day imprisonment for criticizing the court's reading on displacement of Narmada Valley local people should read along with this). These steps will definitely make the underprivileged people feel law and order to be more fair and approachable and hence the judiciary could regain the lost part of its glory. Always remember Thomas Jefferson's words: The execution of law is more important than the making of them.

Sameera Salim

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