The proverb, ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ is the essence of natural justice. The cornerstones of the third and the most important organ of the State, the Judiciary is the role it performs in enhancing the administrative efficacy of the State altogether. While the people during their intercourse with the law in motion come across certain anomalies what lies ahead when the Courts begin to delay justice to offenders on the pretext of lack of benches and judges?
The issues that hamper the effective delivery of justice start with the lack of Judges in the lower judiciary. The lower Judiciary also has a peculiar aspect to its powers which makes it the busiest Courts in the nation with a huge amount of cases pending trials, some at over initial stages. The actively contested cases then reach the High Courts. The High Courts on the other hand often act as a strainer which strains out cases lacking the substantial matters of legal adjudication and then the story becomes gloomy.
The overall scenario today, with not just the lower judiciary but as well as the Higher Judiciary stands in a ditch. The last time we had a CJ of India pitching for intervention from the Narendra Modi government was Justice TS Thakur. Justice Thakur even broke down at a public gathering citing his inability to be at the top yet being unable to trigger changes in the judiciary. He observed that against the sanctioned strength of 1079 judges in the High Courts, a full 478 posts remained vacant. This amounted to 44.3% of the posts lying vacant. Since 2015 the SC and the Central government have been engaged in a tug of war which was preceded by the NJAC Bill being sacked by the SC. The Court has also asked the central government to provide a draft memorandum of procedure, which has unfortunately not become a reality yet.
A bench opf Justices UU Lalit ad AK Goel had on October 27 given a veridct whereby specifying that speedy justice a fundamental right. This involved the wider application of the reforms being deployed in the Judiciary. But it seems that CJI Justice Dipak Misra’s ideas do not align themselves with the spirit of providing speedy justice,while he promotes international arbitration.
The case was of one convict who has spent over 11 years in prison and has not been able to get any redress from the High court of Jharkhand. The HC on its turn replied by saying that the convict is not the only one facing tough times but there are others who have faced a good amount of time in jails! The HC also added that due to lack of judges, there is not enough time to ensure speedy disposal of cases and the HC finds it tough to push through one particular case.
This is not just the case with one Court in our country. The author being associated with the Courts, has been a witness to many cases from the Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Maharashtra coming the Supreme Court seeking speedy disposal.
Even the SC is faced with a similar problem of ever increasing cases and a handful of judges! The solutions to this problem are multi-fold and not just one sided.
The e-Courts project has not been implemented fully yet, and the Indian legal databases have not been able to innovate on new technologies to make justice delivery technically assisted so as to reduce the burden of the judges.
There are certain cases where judges work overtime and take up pending disputes and a very notable step happened this summer when under the leadership of Justice Khehar, the SC judges took turns and addressed cases that were pending for long.
The recent judgement of the recall by the SC of the fundamental right to speedy justice is not the correct step, rather the approach has to be wide and holistic i delivering service to the nation.