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Indian Judicial system, can the poor expect fair Judgement?

The so called great English politician and also the former prime minister William Edwart Gladstone (1809-1898) quoted "Justice delayed is justice denied.". This phrase implies that if justice is not carried out right away timely, then even if it is carried out later it is not really justice because there was a period of time when there was a lack of justice.

I agree that people are losing faith in judiciary. It is mainly because of long delays at all points, the reluctance of all the judges to give the judgments and the inevitable adjournments. That is why people are approaching the mafia which believe in out summary justice.

But it is not as easy to understand without clarification as to what actually is meant by the delay in justice. In between seeking justice and deliverance of justice, there are a lot of pre-requisites and formalities of rules and regulations and prescribed procedures governing proceedings of the court time consuming but unavoidable for the purpose.

Indian judiciary is last hope for citizens of India. Unfortunately the judicial system in India is based on the Evidences and facts, not conscience or morals, so it should be easier, once having the facts at hand, all it needs is an argument and hearing and quicker pronouncement of Justice. A judicial system that cares only about evidences and facts shouldn't worry about taming the souls of the plaintiff and the defendant with time rather give justice as quick as it can, this delay/denial of justice leads to increasing "Out of Court settlements" which are cheaper and quicker thereby leading to the loss of trust in our Judicial System.

The preamble to the Indian constitution, interalia, declares that: "We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens - Justice, social, economic and political. But six decades after Independence, we have endless laws, but not enough justice. The founding fathers of our constitution placed "Justice" at the highest pedestal and our preamble to the constitution placed justice higher that the other features like liberty, equality and fraternity. People use to go to the judiciary in quest of justice.

Indian judiciary is one of main pillars of democracy, it along with media is one to which people look upto while administrative system and police is accused of being highly corrupted. Indian politicians, bureaucrats and police are among least trusted people of India, while judiciary is seen as least corrupted and institute that does stand for people of India

As Chief Justice Burger has noted: "A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people and three things could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society: that people come to believe that inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value; that people who have long been exploited in the smaller transactions of daily life come to believe that courts cannot vindicate their legal rights from fraud and over-reaching; that people come to believe the law in the larger sensecannot fulfill its primary function to protect them and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public streets"

As you know our Honorable Supreme Court has 62,794 cases pending as on January 1, 2015, the data available for the 24 high courts and lower courts up to the year ending 2013 showed pendency of 44.5 lakh and a whopping 2.6 crore, respectively. Of the over 44 lakh cases pending in the high courts, 34,32,493 were civil and 10,23,739 criminals in nature.

Primary causes behind Law's Delays: The first and the biggest problem is about the delay in the disposition of cases.
a) The hopelessly inadequate number of judges and also courts in the country is undoubtedly one of the major reasons for such delay.
b) If the inadequate number of judges is one reason behind delay in judicial process another reason is the incompetence and inefficiency of judges.
(c) The habit of taking adjournment by the lawyers is another reason behind the delay.
(d) Endless amendment of laws is another reason behind the delay.
(e) Absence of work culture in the courts is another reason behind the delayed.
(f) Inadequate quality of justice not only promotes peace in the society but also weaken internal security of the country.

Some of the principal causes are:
(i) Litigation explosion;
(ii) Accumulation of first appeal;
(iii) Inadequacy of staff attached to the High Court i.e. vacancy Crisis in Indian Judiciary
(iv) Inordinate concentration of work in the hands of some members of the Bar'
(v) Lack of punctuality among judges;
(vi) Granting of unnecessary adjournments;
(vii) Indiscriminate closure of Courts;
(viii) Indiscriminate resort to writ jurisdiction;
(ix) Inadequacy of classification and granting of cases;
(x) Inordinate delay in the supply of certified copies of judgments and orders etc

Remedies To Overcome Delay (Suggestions):-

There is need to establish more courts and to increase number of judges according to population. While the population of the country and the number of cases has increased manifold, the judgment services appears to be understaffed. Same is the position of the courts, where number of courts are less in comparison to the need. As it is estimated that India has, only about II Judges per million population, which is among the lowest ratios in the world. Obviously, there is an urgent need to increase the number of judges specially at the local level for giving access to the ordinary people.

"Little drops of
Water, little grains of sand
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land,
Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love
Help to make earth happy
Like the heaven above."

This poem of Julia A F Cabney in "Little Things" was quoted by the Supreme Court judges Doraiswamy Raju and Arijit Pasayat while delivering their judgement on April 12 in the infamous Best Bakery riot case in Gujarat


We can conclude from the above discussion that figures on the chronic backlog of court cases "last six decades"are a further indictment of the country's beleaguered continues to erode trust in India's legal system. The multi-pronged reforms are a long-term project and judges will first have to be brought on board with any significant changes to their profession. Fast-track courts, dedicated to cases of sexual crimes, were opened across the country to address this sentencing and trust deficit. But speedy justice presents its own challenges.

Certainly "justice delayed is justice denied" but the opposite, that "swift justice is injustice," is also true. Though fast track courts have whittled away India's backlog, judges and observers have raised concerns about the quality of justice being administered.

Santosh P. Rav

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