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The safety of the people requireth further from him or them that have the sovereign power, that justice be equally administered to all degrees of people, that is, that as well the rich and mighty as poor and obscure persons may be righted of the injuries done them, so as the great may have no greater hope of impunity when they do violence, dishonor, or any injury to the meaner sort than when one of these does the like to one of them. For in this consisteth equity, to which, as being a precept of the law of Nature, a sovereign is as much subject as any of the meanest of his people.
Throughout civilizations, the idea of justice and its importance has been felt. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle had been advocating theories of justice to the citizens and their students. Even in India, the concepts of justice had been laid down in works such as Smritis, Dharmashastras and Kautilya’s Arthashastra .
In contemporary times, the scope of Justice has been widened with Globalisation and Liberalisation, and people are becoming more aware of their rights, free ideas and concepts have travelled across the globe, thus, making ideas of securing justice more important. But with the rising demand for justice and the population at an all time high, is the disposal of justice adequate in current times?
The British rule in India is responsible for the development of the Common Law based legal system in India. They established a judicial system in the Indian towns of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, for imparting justice in the areas of settlement of the East India Company.
It was on 26th January, 1950 that the Indian Constitution was adopted and the true meaning of justice and an impartial and independent judiciary in an independent India was set up. Presently, the Indian Judiciary is set up in a hierarchal order in the following way-
- Supreme Court- The highest judicial body
- High Courts- Located in different States and Union Territories
- District Courts- Located in different districts of States
- Panchayats- Village Courts
The Indian Judiciary is set independently to keep it impartial and separate from the legislative and executive in our country.
With changing times, the Indian courts have been a topic of discussion due to many reasons. Some of the reasons being inadequacy of courts infrastructure, pendency of cases to name a few.
India Justice Report is a kind of survey that is taken that provides an adequate picture of the situation of justice delivery all across the country. It ranks various big and small states based on various pillars- Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid.
According to this report, the best large State in the pillar of ‘Judiciary’ is Tamil Nadu and among the smaller states it is Sikkim. The overall list has been topped by Maharashtra. But, according to Maja Daruwala, there needs to be more work put in to guarantee speedy and fair justice to everyone.
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PROBLEMS FACED BY INDIAN JUDICIARY
There are a lot of issues plaguing the Indian Judiciary, some of the major issues faced by the court structure in India are-
- Pendency of cases- This is one of the main issues that the judicial system of India has been facing since a long time. It has been said that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ which holds true even today as pendency of cases results in emotional anguish of the victim and their family and overall a negative impact on society as a whole. There are over 30 million cases piled up in the courts and over 20 million fresh cases that come each year. The reason for burdening of Higher Courts is that the lower courts are inefficient and the fast-track courts do not serve their purpose anymore. The legal framework has been stagnant and almost no advancement or enhancement has been made by both the Central or the State government(s) in this regard. There are certain reasons due to which there are pending cases in the Courts and they are-
- Under Staffing- There has been an enormous rise in population, due to which the number of cases has also increased. But for this, the number of judges is very less. The Law Commission Report in 1987 had recommended 50 judges for 1 million people but even today the ratio is just 10 judges for 1 million people.
- Less resources- Proper resources have not been allocated to this sector. The judiciary only gets 0.1- 0.4% of the total Budget which is a very miniscule amount compared to its importance. Digitization and computerization have also not been started in courts across the country. The need for more benches has also been felt but is not possible due to under staffing of the judiciary and the already lack of resources.
- Quality of lower courts- The lower courts have not maintained the quality of the infrastructure and also workforce. Sometimes, there are inadequate or unmotivated judges. This is due to the budgetary allocations as well as lack of importance given to legal education in India. Many students, after graduating leave the country and do not take up jobs in Courts in India.
- Corruption in the administration/judicial system- Corruption is another important issue that exists in almost all spheres of Indian society. Even in judiciary, there have been cases of corruption, which is sometimes ignored by the Indian society and media. There are no provisions for filing an FIR against a corrupt judge directly. Apart from this, there are instances where a lawyer is corrupt or bribed and victims/ victim’s families or a witness is blackmailed. This hampers the justice process to a great extent.
- Lack of proper infrastructure- Many courts across the country lack infrastructure to support courts, especially in district courts. Due to lack of proper infrastructure and modern facilities, the trial proceedings get delayed/postponed, there is a feeling of lethargy and no motivation in such spaces to work.
World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index ranks different countries based on different parameters of justice delivery. Some of these include civic and criminal justice, regulatory enforcement, absence of corruption to name a few.
India’s rank in this index is 69 out of 128 countries.
The best performing countries are –
- New Zealand
India could take these countries as a model and could analyse how these countries have made their judicial processes so fast and advanced.
There are some takeaways that India can take by looking at some judicial systems around the world or by implementing some policies and there could be a positive change that would effectively change the Indian Courts and the justice system in the country. Some of the solutions could be-
To increase the strength of the judiciary -This is one of the main things that could improve the condition of current Courts and judiciary system. As previously discussed, the ratio of judges to citizens is abysmally low, there should be an increase in recruitment of judges, and for this there must be adequate perks that would attract even more people to join this field. Opening up more job posts in all levels of Courts must also be done in order to reduce the workload and fasten the processes. Apart from this, there must be an increase in law colleges and proper funds must be provided for imparting legal education in government colleges; importance to private law schools must also be given.
Proper modernization of courts- Proper infrastructure must be built for the Courts as well as digitization of the administrative processes must be made in order to efficiently track everything as well as help fasten the processes of documentation, verification etc. Also, the laws in India should be checked by the Judiciary from time to time so as to keep up with the modern, ever-changing world. There might be some laws that may seem archaic or not relevant or some might need amendments, that could help ease the judicial process even more.
Allocation of time- There are a number of cases which are trivial or petty in nature. Taking time to solve petty quarrels or cases that are of lesser importance must be made separate. The Court must decide how to handle these cases and properly allocate time based on importance and urgency of cases.
Opening of Courts throughout the year- When there are adequate judges, the process of justice delivery becomes faster. Along with this, if the Courts are open throughout the year with judges appointed on adequate and calculated days, without hampering the leaves that each judge gets, would also improve the overall efficiency of the courts.
Citizens of this country must be provided with knowledge about the laws and also be made aware of the consequences of a fake complain/case which also chokes the justice system by wasting time and resources on such a fake case and overall hampers judicial processes. Apart from this, the crime from the root itself must be stopped, so introduction of moral sciences classes in schools or imparting such moral and ethics-based education for all ages must be taken into consideration.
It is important to understand the important role performed by Judiciary in our country- i.e., providing justice, securing the implementation of laws and upholding the Constitution. There is absolutely no doubt in the Indian legal framework as well, as it is one of the largest written frameworks. But with issues such as false and pending cases, corruption in the system and lack of resources to name a few, it is lagging behind and by handling these issues well in time, the judiciary as well as the country will largely be benefitted.
Author: Ashita Aggarwal
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India.