Tag Archive | Court delays

PM Underscores Tackling Corruption In Judiciary – By Mukesh Jhangiani

Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh (Photo: Wikipedia)

                                                            March 11, 2006

PM Underscores Tackling Corruption In Judiciary*

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Corruption in the judiciary and court delays were counted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today among common litigants’ problems that must be examined and remedied.

”Instances of corruption have now begun to surface in our judicial system, too,” Dr Singh remarked, opening a conference of state chief ministers and high court chief justices at Vigyan Bhavan.

The conference centring on Justice: Accelerated and Affordable heard a keynote address by Chief Justice Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal promising ”zero tolerance” to corruption and a welcome address by Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj.

The Prime Minister emphasised that ”an important aspect of the reform and modernisation of the judiciary and improving the incentive mechanism, is to tackle corruption in the judiciary.”

Dr Singh said the prosecution trend where cases ”fall because witnesses turn hostile or change their evidence is causing concern to ever increasing sections of society.”

The allusion applied to the infamous Jessica Lal case outcome– absolving all nine accused in a murder committed in a packed bar room seven years ago.

The outcome sent a wave of shock across the nation, leading to calls for an effective system of justice which actually punishes criminals and violators and relieves victims.

The widespread public concern was acknowledged by the Prime Minister who stressed ”need for all of us to reflect whether the existing procedures are adequate and foolproof.”

Dr Singh called for an introspection ”whether we are using all available provisions to prevent deviant behaviour and whether we need new provisions in law so that the justice system is seen to deliver justice.”

Speaking as a ”lay man,” the Prime Minister said ”apart from delay in settlement of cases, lengthy court procedures, frequent adjournments, evidence taking procedures, corruption in the judiciary is also a problem of public concern that we must address.”

Dr Singh referred to the ever mounting court case arrears– currently close to 30 million– a problem which ”requires urgent attention.”

Acknowledging that the ”criminal justice delivery system appears to be on the verge of collapse due to diverse reasons,” Justice Sabharwal asserted that ”some of the responsibility will have to be shared by the executive branch of the state.

”Not much has been done for improvement of the investigative and prosecution machinery. Significant suggestions for separation of investigative wing from law and order duties and changes in rules of evidence still lie unattended.”

Justice Sabharwal noted that the public outrage over the failure of the criminal justice system in some recent high profile cases ”must shake us all up into the realisation that something needs to be urgently done to revamp the whole process, though steering clear of knee jerk reactions, remembering that law is a serious business.”

Justice Sabharwal said the main reason for persistent pendencies ”is huge increase in new cases instituted,” adding that it reflected ”more awareness and more rights created by numerous new legislations.”

But he cautioned that if the huge arrears of about three crores in high courts and subordinate courts is not tackled now there would be ”no magic wand available to tackle the menace” when they climb to three and a half crores or four crores. ”We have to turn the tide now. It is now or never.”

Justice Sabharwal said while judiciary was held responsible for mounting arrears, it neither has any control on resources of funds nor any powers to create additional courts or hire staff.

He suggested giving high courts at least ‘limited financial autonomy’ and backing up judicial efforts to bring about urgent legal reforms so as to galavanise the system to ”provide complete justice” instead of subjecting vital proposals for procedural laws to endless debates.

The Chief Justice said the judiciary ”craves for full support from the government. The process of appointments of judges in the high courts at the level of government needs to be expedited.”

He said the topic of corruption was a burning issue in all spheres of public life. The judiciary was committed to continue cleansing itself by coming down with a heavy hand on unscrupulous elements that may exist within and also by removing the deadwood. ”We have adopted a policy of zero tolerance on this subject.”

Referring to the outcomes of past such conferences, Justice Sabharwal said, ”we have been cajoled enough to sit up and take notice. It is time we proceeded to stand up and take action.”

The delays in filling judicial vacancies was acknowledged by the Law and Justice Minister who said the working strength of judges in courts needed to be ”optimised.”

Mr Bhardwaj said that ”though there are still about 100 vacancies of judges to be filled up in various high courts, we could achieve (an) all time high of incumbency, which is 560.”

India’s 21 high courts between them have a total sanctioned strength of close to 700, but remain perennially underfilled.

Mr Bhardwaj said that in district and subordinate courts, too, 2,655 of 14,305 judicial posts were vacant and urged participants to take timely action to fill up vacancies.

Earlier, the Prime Minister urged the Chief Justice and his colleagues to ”lead and guide the judiciary to achieve the formidable goal of reducing pendency and providing speedier and more affordable justice to the common man.”

Dr Singh declared the central government’s ”full support” in this endeavour and also urged the Chief Ministers to make available the necessary infrastructure needed by courts to ensure their effective functioning.

He stressed the need to maintain credibility of the system, improve the utilisation of existing laws and regulations, effective mechanism to ensure judicial accountability and a balanced approach in taking up PIL cases.

Underlining the need to exercise restraint in judicial activism, Dr Singh observed that it must also take adequately into account the administrative viability of the reform process.
UNI MJ NK DS1527

Related articles

Advertisements

People Need ‘Incorruptible’ Justice, Prez Tells Judges – By Mukesh Jhangiani

 

English: Balanced scale of Justice

Balanced scale of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

                                                                                               February 23, 2008

People Need ‘Incorruptible’ Justice, Prez Tells Judges*

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – President Pratibha Patil today called for an easily accessible judicial machinery which dispenses ”affordable and incorruptible justice” to the people.

”We need to have in place a judicial machinery which is easily accessible and dispenses affordable and incorruptible justice to the people,” she said inaugurating a conference on Judicial Reforms.

Noting that India’s judicial administration is not without ”blemishes,” Mrs Patil stressed the need to ”introspect whether our judicial machinery has lived up to” expectations.

The event presided over by India’s Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan was addressed among others by Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj and Bar Council of India chairman Gopakumaran Nair.

President Patil warned against letting the common man ”take law into his own hand,” stressing that ”the formal adjudicatory machinery has to reign supreme.”

She said, ”We cannot allow a situation where the common man is tempted to take law into his own hand and subscribe to the deviant culture of the lynch mob.”

The two-day conference organised by a Confederation of Indian Bar to discuss the ”disquieting” delay in delivery of justice has more than half of Supreme Court judges listed among speakers.

The meet is being held at a time when the judicial system has been a focus of much public debate and comment, arising from such concerns as court delays, case arrears, shortage of judges, unending judicial vacancies and opacity, especially in the area of judicial hiring and accountability.

Alluding presumably to numerous conferences and seminars on reforming the justice system that appear to get nowhere, President Patil remarked: ”We talk incessantly about delays.”

”But now the time has arrived to launch a crusade against the scourge of arrears. Both the Bar and the Bench as equal partners in the administration of justice must address themselves to this problem.”

”Admittedly,” the President went on, ”the realm of judicial administration is not without its own share of inadequacies and blemishes.

”Time has come when we need to seriously introspect whether our judicial machinery has lived up to its expectations of walking the enlightened way by securing complete justice to all and standing out as the beacon of truth, faith and hope.”

Touching on a key issue, Mrs Patil said, ”case disposals are excruciatingly time consuming. This agonising delay has rendered the common man’s knock on the doors of justice a frustrating experience.

The issue of delay in courts has been debated for decades, without much avail. Experts believe lawmakers must take an initiative to sharpen laws and make them truly deterrent.

Mrs Patil called for making legal procedures ”simple, streamlined, rational, easily understandable and commonsensical.”

She reminded members of her erstwhile tribe that lawyers were trustees of justice and ”must set high standards of probity and rectitude.”

On another key area, she said citizens’ access to law ”remains limited due to prohibitive costs of quality legal advice. It is commonplace to hear that law has become the luxury of the rich.

”Legal aid can go a long way in helping the indigents secure justice,” she said adding that the present system ”needs to be improved.”

She reminded that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms need to be encouraged, but ”cannot aspire to substitute the formal courts.”

She said she recently came across the Karnataka High Court’s Bangalore Mediation Centre where 86 mediators had settled more than 1,000 cases in a year, taking an average 131 minutes per case– which ”is worthy of emulation.”

Justice Balakrishnan concurred that Judicial Reforms was a subject ”so much of talked about but too little done.”

Balakrishnan said India had a nationwide network of more than 14,000 courts– about 12,500 judge working strength– dealing with 40 million cases.

He said each judge handled on an average nearly 4,000 cases, which ”is too high as compared to the average load per-Judge in other countries.”

He acknowledged that ”the general impression of the people is that a large number of cases are being delayed and, if any case is filed, it would take years to get a relief.

”This impression about the performance of Indian Judiciary is not fully correct,” Justice Balakrishnan asserted, but went on to acknowledge that some 60 per cent cases were more than a year old.

He said 90 per cent of delayed cases were pending in subordinate courts.

He suggested setting up a national planning and management system for administration of justice and added that the Bhopal-based National Judicial Academy was preparing a case management system to avoid delays.

He also suggested:

— Legislative reform to remove the bottlenecks that adversely affect adjudication;

— Strengthening the Bar;

— Strengthening legal education;

— Legislative reform to strengthen judges’ powers to control judicial processes to ensure just and efficient outcomes in line with international reforms; and

— Satisfactory framework for judicial accountability.

He offered the suggestions as ”broad outlines” to be discussed and designed by competent people.

Justice Balakrishnan also drew attention to a source of overcrowding in courts.

”In a large number of cases pending in Courts, especially in higher Courts, government is one of the parties either as defendant or as appellant.”

He blamed such litigations on lack of proper governmental administration, pointing out that if authorities took impartial decisions, citizens would not normally be driven to litigation.

”Lack of proper and good governance largely contributes to the number of cases in subordinate courts,” Justice Balakrishnan said.

”When it comes to disposal of cases, the delay is disquieting,” Confederation president Pravin Parekh said, citing case arrears now close to 30 million.

He counted 46,926 cases pending in the apex court, 37,00,223 cases pending in high courts and 2,52,85,982 cases pending in district and subordinate courts.

The seminar will be attended by some 1400 delegates, including 14 sitting judges of the apex court, which has a strength of 26.

UNI MJ KD BST1837