SYNOPSIS OF PROBLEMS AND REFORMS
Justice administration is the premier errand of the state and it is appropriately revered in our preamble of Constitution. It is the Judicial infrastructure of a country that anchors citizen’s faith in government. Efficacy in system of checks and balances can’t be maintained with faltering Judicial setup. This means that role of Judiciary is even stronger in order to achieve actual objectives of our constitution in real sense of term. While access to justice is a constitutional mandate and a governance directive, it is hampered by a number of snags that have effectively stymied its implementation in practice.
First phase of interaction of litigants with courts are subordinate judiciary and these courts are shattered on door of debacle. It is widely accepted that the lower judiciary in India is severely plagued by acute shortage of resources and adequate steps to ameliorating the situation have not been adopted. Such backlog not only hampers the justice administration but also affect other spheres such as economic structure of a country, such is the greatness of the issue that the last two financial studies created by two diverse chief financial consultants have devoted whole chapters to it.
It is rightly said that ,"it is the root, not the branches, that a tree's greatest strength lies." Similarly Indian Judiciary is that tree whose roots are in deteriorate condition. Much of the talk around India’s pendency of cases issue emphasize the delays in Supreme courts and the high Courts. Delay in these courts matter since they bargain with high-profile cases but the root of the issue lies in India’s lower courts. About 90% of all pending cases within the nation come from India’s lower courts (locale and subordinate courts) which are the primary port-of-call for most lawful disputes. As part of a broader effort to digitize court records, the Supreme Court launched the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) in 2015 to track judicial performance across different courts in the country. Among original cases (i.e., new cases registered at the courts), more than half the cases (56%) in India’s lower courts are disposed of within a year, the database shows. Much of this is because around half the cases registered in courts are either dismissed without trial (21%), transferred to another court (10%), or settled outside the court (19%).
A visit to any inferior court of the country reveals the bottom reality in our country about the judicial institution. It enlightens us about the pathetic conditions within which the courts functions for the administration of justice.
Physical Infrastructure:- Availability of adequate buildings, Rooms, sanitation facilities flares the efficiency of subordinate courts and enhances their working capacity. Due to unavailability of rooms and buildings, sittings are performed on rotational basis which consumes both time and money and dented efficacy of judicial chain. The value of physical infrastructure has been studied by the National Court Management Systems (NCMS) as part of its reports on the Policy and Action Plan and the Infrastructure and Budgeting Report. AS per ‘Subordinate Courts of India: A Report on Access to Justice’ the subordinate judiciary is operating under a deficiency of 5,018 court room. It is common knowledge that judicial officers in subordinate courts, particularly in less developed states work under undesirable conditions that hampers working of judiciary.
Digital and Technological Infrastructure:- Such snug over infrastructure in lower courts can largely be depicted on the grounds of inadequate facility of digital equipment such as computers, routers, Wi-Fi, Cables, Lights, printer ,scanners etc. It is evidently clear that how digitalization play a keen role in development of a Judicial sphere at apex level ,so it is an urgent need of hour protruding it over subordinate judicial setup.
2.Budget Allocation complexity:-
Indian government flamboyancy over budget get derailed when it came to spending on Judicial mechanics and It is noteworthy that most states with the exception of Maharashtra spend less than 2% of its budget on the judiciary and yet our expectations of Judicial efficacy are at par. Hubris over our so called Indian Judiciary lies in the pages of this finance budget book by churning efficiency of judiciary drastically.
India's justice system has been affected by poor budgeting, the recently released India Justice Report has concluded. Inadequate allocations, poor planning and underutilisation of funds--all these have impacted the ability of the justice system to address its capacity constraints and improve its functioning. The average national spending on the judiciary in this period was 0.08% of the gross domestic product (GDP), said the report which was published by Tata Trusts, a philanthropic organisation, in collaboration with six organisations.
3.Inadequate Centralised Data extraction techniques
Since there is physical interaction of document, files, memos among police department, Jail department and Judicial authorities, Augmentation of centralised data extracting is most crucial step in helming of efficiency of Judiciary. To understand this ,let an example of charge sheet, if charge sheet is presented to Judicial authorities over digital way instead of rote culture of physical presentation then it will save time and money and provide a centralised platform so that it can be accessed by Jail authorities, Police department and Judicial authorities. Similarly digitalizing the physical registers and making all the data available at centralised location ensure transparency and facilitates interaction among all of three.
4.Inadequacy of secretarial and support staff
It is submitted that judicial infrastructure needs to be expanded at the same pace as the hiring of judicial officers. This is supported by the report of the Department of Justice which has prioritised the improvement of physical infrastructure of courts. This is manifested in the allocation of Rs.1400 crores towards development of litigant friendly court infrastructure. Court staffing in terms of secretarial and support staff is found to be inadequate at all levels. A lack of competent and responsive courtroom staff has resulted in avoidable problems relating to scheduling, notice of court date and unsound manner of listing of cases which contributes to confusion and inefficiencies in the judicial process. 41,775 positions for secretarial and support staff are lying vacant in lower courts.
5.Lack of legal awareness :-
For Judicial setup to be successful, the public must know how justice work Public must also be fully engaged in the acquisition of knowledge related to justice. Lawyers and authors should be close to the public and seek advice on specific laws and judgments. The judicial system of any country is an integral part of society and it is important to have regular and socially appropriate interactions and most importantly lack of confidence in a fair justice system and quickly creates a society of low trust. Associations must participate in legal proceedings.
6.Inefficienciet Judicial Framework:-
Lower courts in India endure from certain legal wasteful aspects which are inferable to the court and the litigant/counsel. Such wasteful aspects incorporate nonattendance of judge, packing in posting of cases, scarcity of time to listen things, nonappearance of advise, superfluous suspension, condonation of delay, ask for give of rebuilding and continuances. The previously mentioned wasteful aspects contribute to legal delays and hampers get to to equity. Whereas a few judges have reacted to delays by limiting the number of continuances and adjournments allowed, the by and large drift is in support of allowing such demands. In arrange to contain the culture of over the top adjournments and condonation of delay, lower courts ought to entirely force costs on the concerned parties.
Drastic changes can only churn the lower judicial setup. It is an urgent need of hour to look into the matter concerning the subordinate judiciary. It is prime requirement of a judiciary as it prod Indian Judicial setup to next level. Following are the measures that need to be adopted :-
1. While large number of judicial vacancies is certainly a problem which hampers the capacity of lower courts in India, it is submitted that a more holistic and cohesive approach should be adopted towards judicial reform of subordinate courts. Besides filling judicial vacancies and expansion of the judicial strength, other important measures including judicial case management, improvement in infrastructure, better and updated judicial training should be pursued. For instance, lower courts in certain states like Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have managed to dispose of all cases pending for 10 years or more. This has been achieved largely due to the setting up of case management system. The case management system entails a monitoring of status of cases from filing to disposal. Annual targets and action plans with objective of disposal of old cases was undertaken. In order to ensure that cases were not disposed with undue haste, a quarterly performance review was conducted.
2. The broadly held recognition is that judges of the subordinate courts are doing the finest that they conceivably can in the midst of the characteristic imperatives and restricted assets inside which they work. Whereas this discernment is debatable, it is submitted that more resources should be occupied towards benefit of lower judiciary by the combined endeavours of the central and individual state governments.
3. Court staff must be superior prepared to oversee the organization of courts and streamline their strategies and rules particularly vis-à-vis prosecutors and attorneys.
4. In order to reduce the backlog of cases at the level of lower judiciary, existing judicial vacancies should be filled. In addition to filling the vacancies, the existing sanctioned judicial strength of subordinate courts may need to be increased in certain states depending on the size of population, economic prosperity and volume of litigation among other factors. Court staff must be better equipped to manage the administration of courts and streamline their procedures and guidelines especially vis-à-vis litigants and lawyers.
5. Judicial Case administration may well be of vital significance, where the judge plays a more proactive part in deciding a time table for the case and appropriately observing the advance against such timeline. The 230th Report of the LCI contains an cluster of measures to bargain with the pendency of cases which incorporate strict rules for allow of suspension, diminishment in length of excursion, diminishment in time for verbal contentions unless the case includes a complex address of law, digitalization of court records. It is germane to state that while there exists an component of commonality within the issues tormenting the lower courts in different states of India, subordinate courts are tormented by certain wasteful aspects particular to the nearby conditions of the state, which must be taken under consideration before implementing measures of legal change. It is submitted that a one-size fit all arrangement of legal change ought to not be utilized within the case of lower legal setup.
6. In arrange to diminish the excess of cases at the level of lower legal setup,existing legal vacancies ought to be filled. In expansion to filling the vacancies, the existing authorized legal quality of subordinate courts may ought to be expanded in certain states depending on the estimate of populace, financial thriving and volume of case among other components.
There is no doubt upon the credibility of the Indian judiciary system. It is one of the largest judicial systems around the world having a law for almost all sorts of criminal activities. If we look at the history, the Supreme Court, since its inaugural sitting on 28th of January 1950 has delivered over 25000 reported judgments. But the issues of corruption, pending cases, lack of transparency in the judiciary cannot be avoided. Thus if the judicial system removes these backlogs, we might see Indian judicial system as the best judicial system in the world. Also, the faith of the common person in judiciary may be restored before it’s completely lost and this will enhances the better and effective functioning of judiciary in order to achieve it prime goal of what us enshrined in our constitution as administration of social,political and economical justice.
By-Dilraj Singh Chouhan