JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM AND PUBLIC SYSTEM: A REALITY CHECK! BY MANISHA BORAMPETA

“The independence of the judiciary is not the property of the judiciary, but a commodity to be held by the judiciary in trust for the public”

-Justice Lord Woolf

INTRODUCTION

Economic, social, political justice has guaranteed to the citizens by The Constitution of India through its preamble. Even after the 72 years of independence, accomplishing the fair and real justice to all the citizens has remained a remote achievement. Judiciary is an integral part of the state and adjudication of disputes fairly is the mainspring of the legal structure, but due to a large number of pending cases and some loopholes in the judiciary which directly or indirectly affecting the rights of the common people.

Indian courts play a very important role in providing justice, equality, freedom to the people but due to lacunae’s in the judiciary it is infecting the interest of the public at large like the supreme court sometimes uses its powers under article 142 to pass the orders which lack the scope of implementation also it is passing orders in contravention of substantive laws.

DELAY IN JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM

The sufferings of litigations will be increased if there is an undue delay in the justice delivery system such as intensifying the cost of litigation, the prospect of memory fading, the chance of miscarriage of justice, and relief of becoming pointless. In the present scenario delay in the justice delivery system is a major public concern across the country.

REASONS

Some of the reasons for the delay in justice are:

Increase in the number of cases

In observations of the fourteenth law commission, there is a constant increase in the number of cases in India due to the adoption of the Indian Constitution. In the post- constitution period, there are three factors responsible for the increasing cases are:

  1. Economic and industrial development
  2. Enforcement of fundamental rights
  3. Expansion of jurisdiction of High Courts.

Since from the post-constitution period, the cases are increasing day by day due to the non-disposal of old cases. In the present scenario, the technological developments giving way to the cyber crimes which are increasing rapidly in addition to the old cases which ultimately resulting in the dilution of justice.

Pending cases

Law commission in 1958 has already warned the judiciary system with the arrears in the cases, but there is no improvement yet. At present there are 3 crores of cases are pending across India in various courts like in Supreme Court 65000 cases, in High Court 46 lakh cases, in other lower courts 2.6 cases which have paralyzed the efficient working of the judiciary and inimically affected the right of the citizens to the speedy delivery of justice. It is often acknowledged that on average, the time length of a case from the date of filing to the final disposition of the case may cross the life span of the litigant and passes to their legal representatives and in some cases, it may be handed down to generations.

There are many factors which are responsible for the pendency of cases such as population explosion, litigation explosion, change in the pattern of litigation, increasing legislative activities, imperfect drafting of legislation, a burden on the courts in dealing with the election petitions, the plurality of appeals, revisions, second appeals, lacking in disposing of the old cases, etc. The problem of arrears in the cases has to be overcome by the Indian judiciary by implementing the special commissions.

Speedy and fair trials

Right to a speedy trial is an intrinsic part of the principles of fair trials. Supreme Court as highlighted the need for speedy and fair trials in various landmark judgments like in Kartar Singh v State of Punjab[1] held that, the concept of speedy trial is read into Article 21 of the Constitution[2], it is the safeguard to avert oppressive actions foregoing to the trial. Justice Krishna Iyer said in Babu Singh v State of UP[3], our legal system even in grace cases suffers from slow motion syndrome which is lethal to speedy and fair trials.

Due to the delay in the cases the under trial prisoners have been in jail for more than stipulated time and if he convicted their detention is totally in violation of their fundamental rights which is defeating the main purpose of the justice and affecting the public interest at large. The huge arrears in the case clogs the speedy justice and create mental and economic pressure on the litigants. Most of the time, the plea of speedy trial is defeated by saying that the informer did not demand a speedy trial.

Poor judge to people ratio

 The increasing judge-population ratio will be a solution to this problem? One of the major reasons for under-performance of the Indian judiciary is a hostile judge to people ratio. There are approximately 14 judges for the million of the population. In All India Judges Association v Union of India[4], the Supreme Court directed all the state judiciaries to increase judge to people ratio up to 50 judges for million people. Apart from this, considerable judge posts are vacant in various courts across the country. National Court Management System estimated that the Indian judiciary requires 75,000 judges to dispose of the cases in time. Vacancy of the judges affecting the functioning of the judiciary and complete justice to the people.

Budget Constraint

Indian judiciary is an under-resourced and over-burdened system; also most of the states in India are not spending even 50% of the allocated budget on the judiciary. Failed to spend allocated budget on courts on various activities like court-room infrastructure, to train the judicial officers etc. is a greater loss to the common good of the people.

Frequent adjournments

The main reason for the delay in cases is granting of adjournments by the courts on flimsy grounds for inexplicable reasons. As observed many cases have been adjourned many times till their disposal which is the major concern for a case to run for years together. It is the erosion of the rule of law as it is adversely affecting the common people’s faith in the justice delivery system. In this society, the cases should be adjudicated within a reasonable time to give certainty to the rights and obligations provided by the law.

Incompetent judges and lawyers

Some of the judges and lawyers are being the political appointees, who do not know how to deal with the cases is affecting the interest of the public at large with their inefficiency. Most of them are not addressing the case in-time in the court. Also bribing is the major concern that making a judge and a lawyer more unethical which is the ultimate goal of injustice to the common people.

 Supreme Court in Kumari Srilekha Vidyarthi v State of UP[5] observed that due to the intervention of political appointments of lawyers (if incompetent) adversely affecting the functioning of the judiciary and the lawyers due to lack of experience inefficiently fighting the cases.

Poor infrastructure

Despite the availability of funds and allocated budget to the judiciary, Indian courts are still facing the problem of poor infrastructure and poor judicial manpower. Every person in the court is facing problems due to the poor infrastructure like fewer court-rooms, non-availability of required equipment. Especially the victims are not even getting the basic needs surrounding the out premises.

Corruption

Like other wings of government, the judiciary is also facing the problem of corruption. Every person from the lower cadre to higher cadre is involving in the corruption in some or other ways which are polluting the main aim of the judiciary. Judiciary which is the guardian to protect people from the corruption is involving in corruption is a great sign of the destruction of the public interest completely.

Delay in investigative agencies

Most of the criminal cases are failing due to the latches and delays in the investigation of the cases. Some of the investigating officers are not trained well to tackle the offences by using modern electronic devices. In India, police and forensic laboratories play an important role in the investigation part. They are many issues with the investigative agencies which are leading to the delay in the cases like failing to submit the charge sheet in time, unable to prevent the intimidation/bribery of witnesses, allocating a lot of duties and responsibilities to the selected police force, also there are few forensic laboratories with the limited number of experts functioning in the country which is the big lacunae to deal with the crimes.

JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM IN CRIMINAL CASES

The criminal justice system is time-consuming and it ultimately results in the “justice delayed is the justice denied”

FIR: Filing FIR is a time taking process which gives ample time to the accused to tamper the evidence which defeats the main object of section 154 of CrPC.

Police: Generally, victims are facing many problems to register their case in the police station due to the police misconduct towards people. In non-cognizable offences, the police required to refer the victim to the court, in this process police may misuse the situation which has pragmatically recorded in India. According to the MALIMATH REPORT 2003, the victims are treated differently and sometimes threatened by the police. Also, police deforming the facts to convert cognizable offences to non-cognizable offences under some greater influences. In addition to this harassment of victims by the police is not a new feature. According to the fact, the police needs the help of the victim to trace the crime, but in reality, police not even considered the victim in the criminal justice system. Apart from this also due to the excessive workload, the inadequacy of logistical and forensic backup support, interruption during the investigation, and lack of coordination with the prosecution police could not speed up the cases which are defeating the interest of the public at large.

Investigation: Many accused persons are releasing on bail due to the inefficiency of police to complete their investigation within a reasonable time. Many accused persons are acquitting due to the faulty investigation due to which the victim of the crime never enjoying the fruits of justice. Another main problem with the investigation system is lack of FORENSIC LABORATORIES and modern equipment to trace the offender.

Victim: Victims of the criminal cases don’t know which prosecution lawyer is arguing on behalf of them; this is due to a lack of communication gap between prosecution lawyer and victim. The most problem faced by the victim is that there are no facilities available on the premises of the court to fulfil their basic needs. Even the basic amenities like drinking water; toilets etc are not available in some courts. There is much financial burden undergoing by the victim is more in comparison to which they get from the government. The amount which they get from the government is not sufficient even to meet their travelling expenses and also most of them are compromising with their case because while roaming around the court for the justice they are losing their livelihood. The worst treatment that the victim faces is that the distorting evidence, files disappearing, concealing material facts, overlooking relevant arguments, failure to attend court dates due to the involvement of agencies in the proceedings. Another main problem is that most of the time’s victim’s rights are clashing with the accused and convicted person’s right.

According to Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India accused as a constitutional right to represent lawyers, but the same facilities are not available to the victim. A victim should be having the right to engage an advocate of his choice. The expenses of the victims and witnesses should be enhanced to encourage them to attend the court. Special initiatives should be taken to protect the interest of the crime victims like CRIME VICTIMS RIGHTS ACT (CVRA) in the US which establishes the rights of the crime victims.

Protection of witnesses: Witnesses are facing the major threats to not to witness the case. Many offences are committing against the witnesses which are leading to the increase of new cases form the old ones. The adequate number of witnesses is called at each hearing and most of them are going unexamined.

Delay in Punishment Execution

Indian judiciary is providing justice by unnecessary delays in the execution of justice. The prolonged wait in the execution of punishment violates article 21of the constitution of the prisoners especially, in death sentences. At the time the court awarding the punishment, the public tends to forget the gravity of the crime and in the meantime accused may tamper the evidence. Even people in the society lost their faith and confidence in the law and order also most of them feeling like getting justice to the common people is an adventurous thing. Reformation actions of the judiciary are not poking the public to curb the crimes because of delayed punishments.

Equal Justice

Article 14 of the Constitution provides ‘ equality before the law and equal protection of laws’ and article 39A mandates the state to secure that the operation of law promotes justice based on equal opportunity and the same is not denied to any citizen by the reason of economic or other disabilities. Every citizen is guaranteed by the Constitution with equal rights but they are not able to enjoy the rights according to the constitution due to the lack of ability to enforce them.

JUSTICE TO THE WOMEN AND WEAKER SECTIONS

As the judicial proceedings are very complex, costly, and unpunctual, people in weaker sections and women are in a great disadvantage in getting justice. Women are being gender-biased from ages and it is continuing, there are no reforms worked effectively yet. More than anything every woman craves for their dignity and respect at the workplace which is not properly achieving by them.

SEXISM IN COURTS

Women are facing gender discrimination in the court which is the violation of article 15 of the constitution. Over the ages, there is no improvement in the culture of the dominance of the men in the courts. Even co-lawyers, judges are using derogatory language and they are going unethical against the women which are resulting in defeating the ultimate interest of the women as well as the public at large. In most of the judgments women were referred with the biased words which are unethical against the women, these should be barred from being used to create a new way to gender sensitivity. Legal language communicates the rights and obligations of the law and the same could not be taken advantageous.

Due to the trying of women cases in open courts, prolonged trials making the victims hostile, lack of medical evidence, corruption, sometimes the cross-examination of women victims is more humiliating than the crime itself, often lawyers/ judges indulging in the sexual abuse with the women clients.

Women’s clothing, marital status, and professional success are commented upon in courts by all the players. It is so ingrained and naturalized; they don’t even know it is derogatory. They cannot tell the difference between humour and sexist remarks,” says Selvi Palani.[6]

SUGGESTIONS TO REMOVE THE SHORTFALLS
  1. Judicial procedures and practices should be simplified to make the delivery of justice faster, inexpensive, uncomplicated, and closer to the common people.
  2. Judicial managing system can be established to check on the pendency of cases, professional lines, and investigation by the police, the prosecution, and the whole judiciary system and make them accountable for the delays in their respective domains.
  3. Amendments and modifications can be done in the criminal jurisprudence if there is a requirement in the interest of the public.
  4. There should be great cooperation between judiciary, police, prosecution, and punish the wrongdoer in time to restore the confidence of the common people in the criminal justice system.
CONCLUSION

Judiciary keeps a check on other organs of the state under the constitution but it has failed to account for its functions, as judicial accountability is the best solution for judicial integrity. Delay in the justice delivery system making judiciary as the weakest organ of the state. Judicial reforms should be enforced strictly to avoid pending cases which are the major concern of the Indian judiciary.

Firstly, the outdated legal framework of the judiciary should be altered and new provisions have to be introduced to decrease the flaws in the judiciary. Secondly, the general court-room audit should be conducted to keep the checking track on court-room culture, availability of required infrastructure, discriminatory behaviour. Indian judiciary has to be improvised to protect the interest of the people.

FOOTNOTES

[1] (1994) 3 SCC 569 (India).

[2] Article 21- right to life and personal liberty.

[3] (1978) 2 SCR 777 (India).

[4] (1992) 1SCC 119 (India).

[5] (1991) AIR 537 (India).

[6] An advocate of the Madras high court.

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