Over the past decades, there has been a tremendous change in the society as a whole. Every individual is seeking a better standard of life but we see that the hardworking citizens are deprived of the basic necessities for daily life and the slimy and corrupt individuals are relaxing in the luxurious amenities. Justice, Equality and Freedom is contraband because the very right to access the justice is like a pig sty, no one dares to enter and those who do enter, either never return or are kicked out of the system due to the misdirection and unfair dealings.
Indian Judicial system is a maze with no end. Corruption has taken over the noble business of justice. Every Indian citizen has right to a speedy and fair trial, but one gets nothing but delay and fractional trial with loop holes of a mesh. It is sad and distressing to see this unsettling scene of the Indian Judiciary. We, the people of India are struggling to seek some justice from one of the pillar of the Indian Constitution, upon which the largest democracy rests.
It’s a dreadful story of how justice is customarily delayed and hence denied in our country and yet it hardly arouses any major worry any longer. The justice in India has yet again chosen the nasty path by humbly succumbing to the rich and the powerful.
The judicial system in India is highly biased, expensive and always a dream for the poor. An ordinary man cannot waste his money, energy and time running a case which would proceed through out the life time and sometimes even beyond that. Now, its corruption that is haunting the lower trial courts. Money can win any case, even if the accused is the devil himself. An ordinary citizen is like a donkey that works hard all day long, pays taxes to government for the sake of welfare of the state, but in return he is revealed a dream, the illusions of justice, fair trial, law and order, equality and speedy trial. Just like a donkey is running after a carrot all day long to feed him, similarly an ordinary citizen of is running and begging to seek justice in every pot hole of the judicial system. Due to the unethical and malpractices of certain worms, the system as whole is malfunctioning. It has become so hazardous that an individual does not want to make his way to the dusty courtrooms and corrupt officials because in return all he will get is sham promises to fulfill the illusions.
The ordinary citizen, who is devoid of money, power and muscle, has to cry and beg for justice. Even in the rarest of the rare case when justice is granted, the rich and the powerful criminals are granted bail more rapidly rather than later. In most cases, these famous culprits are sentenced to imprisonment by the judiciary only in the after effects of the extreme media intervention and public outcries. The judicial orders regarding the high profile murder cases of Jessica Lal, Priyadarshini Mattoo, Nitish Kataria and Ruchika case have resulted in sentences being awarded to the guilty solely due to the media and public uproar. An ordinary citizen fighting a case, which is not in the media’s scrutiny, is put forward endless hardships at the hands of the more dominant and forceful opponent.
The judicial system of our country is not just highly bungling, it also has several loopholes, which favour the wealthy and mighty and suppress the poor and the weak. Corruption has seeped into the judicial hierarchy at all levels. It has become easier for high profile culprits to get away with their crime. The accused can easily refrain from court dates, threaten the witnesses who are left with no option but to turn hostile, turn and twist the simple, clear-cut cases according to their handiness because our judiciary gives them the freedom to do so. It is shameful that in these cases, where facts presented against these influential people are so straightforward and simple, are made to drag along for several years until it disappears from public memory and the victim or his family gives up due in utter aggravation.
The loopholes in the guidelines and codes of conduct governing in the judiciary have allowed the miscreants, the rich and the powerful to buy the judiciary and take law in their own hands. There is no one to judge the judges and no one who can help the innocent victims who have suffered a great deal at the hands of the judiciary. Our democracy has been reduced to being one’ of the rich and powerful, by the rich and the powerful and for the rich and the powerful’.
In this regard, the report of the 230th Law Commission of India on the subject of judicial reforms makes for appealing reading. Some of the facts that the report reveals are truly shocking:
1. There are some 3 million cases pending in just the 21 High Courts of the country. There are a further 26 million cases pending in the lower courts.
2. One Delhi HC judge has calculated that it would take 464 years with the present strength of judges in that court to settle off all arrears.
3. The Supreme Court has said that we need 5 times more number of judges in the apex court than we have at present. We also need many more benches.
Not being able to afford speedy justice leads to other compromises as well. For example, one of the prime needs of the country is to have electoral reforms. One of the reforms needed the most is to disallow politicians with imminent criminal cases from standing for elections. But for this to happen, it is essential that cases are disposed off swiftly. If they aren’t, then false cases could get filed against candidates knowing that the judgment would take years to come. In fact, it could become part of a political policy – putting on hold the strong candidates by lodging laughing charges against first-class candidates.
Delayed justice also creates another discreditable situation we see in our country – millions of under trials languishing in the jails waiting for justice to be delivered. In many cases, when the judgment is finally delivered, it is found that the accused are not guilty. Yet the accused have done in many years of their life in jail. We saw this happen recently in Gujarat when nearly 90 Muslims rounded up after the Godhra riots were acquitted after having stayed 9 years in jail. Who will return these years of their life back to them?
Clearly, a speedy trial is not only required to give quick justice, it is also an integral part of the fundamental right of life and personal liberty as envisaged in article 21 of the Constitution.
The Law Commission’s report makes some interesting suggestions
1) There must be full utilization of the working hours of the court. Judges must be punctual; lawyers must not seek adjudication unless absolutely necessary.
2) Similar cases should be clubbed together using technology and a common judgment should help close all of them. Such cases should be on priority.
3) Judges must pronounce judgments within a reasonable period of time.
4) Vacation of judges in the higher courts must be curtailed by 10-15 days.
5) Maximum time for arguments given to a lawyer should be less than one hour and thirty minutes.
6) Judgments should be clear and decisive and liberated from ambiguity.
7) Lawyers must not resort to strikes.
8) Retirement age of High Court judges should be increased from 62 years to 65 years and for Supreme Court judges from 65 to 68 years.
9) We need many more Fast Track courts, Special courts, Lok Adalats and Gram Nyayalayas to reduce the inflow of cases into the main judicial system.
For speedy justice, we also need police reforms. We need the police work faster; we also need them to work with far higher ability. Judges whine that the quality of police work is so sloppy that important pieces of evidence are lost in the process of investigation. The time taken is also so long that investigation value suffers. In many cases, witnesses turn hostile as the accused get time to use their muscle and money power on the witnesses. Poor quality of investigation also leads to more appeals, as judgments fails to satisfy the two parties. All this needs to change for justice to be delivered quickly. But again, police reforms have been assembly dust for long.
The bitter truth is that, its 63 years since world’s largest constitution came into power but is still struggling to pave way for Justice, Liberty and Equality. We have a lot to be ashamed of, as every citizen of this nation is responsible for this dirt ridden judicial system. One of the things that we must work on rapidly is the judicial reforms. Presently, judicial reforms are being discussed in the context of judicial corruption but I am not even talking about that. I think it’s equally important for judicial decision making to be speeded up. There is a vital need for all people concerned with the judicial system – the Government, the lawyers and the Judiciary itself, to figure out a way to speed up justice.
Source : Law Commission of India – http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report230.pdf