Thursday, 22 September 2016

India's Judicial "Pendency"

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A whopping 33 million cases are pending across various courts in India. The statistics proves more grim when we realize more than half of them are pending for more than 2 years & over 3.7 million cases (around 11%) are awaiting conclusion for more than 10 years. Considering an involvement of minimum of 2-3 persons per case, justice is delayed OR denied indefinitely to over 50 million peoples of India. What is the ultimate use, if justice is given to someone once the essence of his / her life is over? What's the use, if someone is acquitted or accused after twiddling one's thumb for years together? If this situation continues, our country will have 15 crores pending cases by end 2040. Seems there is a systematic problem with India's judiciary.  Why there is a judicial pendency in India?

As per me, there are many reasons to it;

1) Increasing criminal cases: We are one of the leaders as far as crimes are concerned. Our country has also earned the dubious distinction of being the country where maximum numbers of murders takes place in the world. In numbers, it is double the figures in US. Another disturbing aspect is that the largest litigant in our country is our government itself, who is responsible for nearly half the pending cases. Many of them are actually cases of one department of the government suing another, leaving the decision-making to the courts. In other words, both our government & criminals are striving towards keeping judiciary overburdened & stretched. 

2) Less number of judges: India has one of the world's lowest ratios of judges to population in the world with only 13 judges for every million people, compared with 50 in developed nations. This leads to increased number of adjournments & finally results in cases piling up. Even though debates are going on for decades about filling the shortages of Judges, still our judiciary is running with skeleton crew. The laxity & levity approach shown by various governments clearly indicates how serious they are when it comes to "providing justice to citizens". It also exposes our various governments' failures to come up with judicial reforms. 

3) Money & muscle power takes priority away: It is surprising to note most of the high profile cases were  attended & verdicts are given so fast whereas the common citizens are ignored forever. The entire attention is diverted to cases where VIP's are involved. One side, common man is pleading for justice whereas on the other side, our judiciary is working hard to support VIP criminals. Indian courts are turning out to be a safe heaven for big criminals. Special Benches have been called to assist them. Nothing but a subject of ridicule. All this supports the fact system cares only affluent class & common man as always gets ignored. It's high time judiciary must be released from money power & political interference. 

4) Too much of holidays: I have checked the Indian Supreme Court's calendar & found they are 134 holidays out of 365 possible days. This includes a summer vacation of 6-7 weeks every year!!!. Of course, the British started this concept but the unanswered question is "why still we have to follow the colonial practice without justifiable reasons". Doesn't it look clumsy to see our judiciary most of the time in hibernation mode, that too in a country, where criminals and dacoits working overtime. I do appreciate the fact that Judges requires some relaxation from the monotonous job they are carrying out. But as the same time as a responsible citizen, I do agree even minute measures can accelerate the disposal of backlogs.  If the existing judges can work an extra hour/day, 15 to 20 % of pendency can be easily resolved. This extra one hour of yours can give justice to 10 million more people. Please understand the essence of constitution in it's right spirit can be delivered, only if we are alert all the time.

Above all parameters clearly show that the entire judiciary system in India needs a complete overhaul so that constitutional mandate of equality before law is made meaningful.

Let's together work towards strengthening our judiciary.

Regards..........Anil Panicker

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