Court System sucks very badly and in fact the image of Courts especially Civil matters is almost more worse than bad and it is so bad that no one wants to get into legal system and even if they are true and honest, Courts system and its pattern make them run away from achieving the justice and this is where the whole Courts system, no doubt, has failed. It is said that it is better to acquit 100 guilty people rather than holding one honest person guilty as the whole purpose is to ensure an honest person is not convicted, but sadly the truth is far back in terms of reality.
The sole purpose of Law is that bind all people living in a community and also by way of providing framework and rules which helps in resolving disputes between individuals and in fact the Laws create a system where person/s can bring their disputes before an impartial fact-finder, such as a judge or jury. Laws protect and ensure rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself and this exist at the local, state and national levels and also at international levels
If Laws are there then Courts act as platforms where disputes or cases are heard and determined and it does acts as a forum to resolve disputes and to test and enforce laws in a fair and rational manner. It can also be said that the Courts actually act as impartial forum, and judges are free to apply the law without regard to the states wishes or the weight of public opinion but in line with human rights as the Court’s decisions are based on what the law says and what the evidence proves and not on suspicion, bias or favouritism basis and this is the reasons as to why justice is often symbolised as a blindfolded figure balancing a set of scales, oblivious to anything that could detract from the pursuit of an outcome that is just and fair.
Why Cases Disposal takes time?
There is no doubt the lack of adequate numbers of judges and results being inadequate number of Courts are the main reasons. For ex., Vashi Court, as an example, is a huge jurisdiction, and has several police stations under its jurisdiction. For 25 odd police stations, there are 10 Magistrates. On a calculative basis, the average number of cases listed for trial before each Magistrate per working day might be around 60 cases. That makes 60 X 10 = 600 cases per day. Now, owing to paucity of time, even if the Magistrate sits the entire working day, he or she will be able to have a substantial hearing of not more than 30 cases per day, and even that may be affected if there are other duties that the Magistrate may have to perform, such as hearing bail matters. Thus, each day, about 50 or more cases are adjourned to a later date, adding to the existing backlog. If you count the number of production matters that come up each day and average it at about 80 or so per day, those are 50 new matters per day which have to eventually go to trial…and the same number of Magistrates who will have to share this burden. You understand how backlog starts building? And this is only in criminal cases too! There are places where the Civil Judge and the Judicial Magistrate is the same person owing to lack of manpower…in these districts the situation may be twice as bad!
Indian Court working days and hours:
The most common question being raised by the honest litigants is that what are the reasons that the Courts do not work for 365 days like other government bodies do. Well, no doubt will share my views on this later in this Article but as of now just want to clear the myth associated with the Central Government or State Government of working 365 days. To the best I am aware, except for the Police Department, no other government department works for 365 days in a year.
For ex., in case of Central Government services, all Saturdays (52 days in a year) and all Sundays (52 days) are holidays and so, we can exclude these 104 days from the year thereby leaving 261 days to work. Now, in Delhi, for example, the Central Government has 17 holidays in the year for festivals and national days (such as 15 August, 26 January, Diwali, Holi, Id, Muharram, Christmas Day, etc.) which means that after deducting them, the available days left for working is 244 days which can be said as working days in Central Government in Delhi.
Now, in case of Metropolitan Magistrate Courts in Delhi, even they are closed for all Sundays (52 days) and only Second Saturdays every month (12 days) and since so, there are 301 days left in the Year and in this there will be a deduction of 24 closed holidays on account of festivals, etc thereby leaving with 277 working days.
So, if one compares Metropolitan Magistrate working days with Central Government working days, Metropolitan Magistrate working days are higher (certain number of days here and there be taken into consideration but in no case lesser than Central Government)
However, it is factually true that a High Court usually works for only about 220 days in a year and The Supreme Court usually works for about 190 to 200 days in a year and these numbers keep changing a little from year to year. Hence, I am of the view that the number of vacation days in The Supreme Court and High Courts should be substantially reduced.
Let’s know about Strength of Judges
Out of 23000 judges in India, there are only about 1000 High Court judges and 31 Supreme Court judges. This means that about 95% of all judges in India are judges / magistrates in the District Courts and lower courts and out of 23000 judges, still 5500 judges seats are vacant.
Pendency of Cases:
As per the Indian government figures, at the end of 31.08.2020, total pending cases is around more than 4.5 crores are as under:
●62000 = Supreme Court
●51.57 lakhs = High Courts
●3.45 crores = District Courts of India
So if one calculates, for 16500 Judges in the District Courts of India, there is a pendency of 3.45 crore cases, i.e. a total of 2000 cases on one single judge! The figures goes till 2000 cases per Supreme Court Judge and 5000 cases per High Court Judge! The pendency seems to be drastically high and time and again have Hon’ble Justices commented on it sharing their concerns.
Justice V D Tulzapurkar of the Supreme Courts has observed
“If an independent judiciary is regarded as the heart of a republic, then the Indian republic is at present suffering from serious heart ailment. In fact, the superior judiciary of the country has of late been under constant onslaughts, external as well as internal which are bound to cripple the health, welfare and progress of our body politic, as an ailing heart cannot ensure vigorous blood supply for the sound health of its people”
Former Chief Justice P N Bhagwati in his Law Day speech in 1985 said
“I am pained to observe that the judicial system in the country is on the verge of collapse….. Our judicial system is crashing under the weight of arrears. It is trite saying that justice delayed is justice denied. We often utter this platitudinous phrase to express our indignation at the delay in disposal of cases but this indignation is only at an intellectual and superficial level. Those who are seeking justice in our own Courts have to wait patiently for years and years to get justice. They have to pass through the labyrinth of one Court to another until their patience gets exhausted and they give up hope in utter despair…. The only persons who benefit by the delay in our Courts are the dishonest who can with impunity avoid carrying out their legal obligations for years and each affluent person who obtains orders and stays or injunctions against Government and public authorities and then continues to enjoy the benefits of such stay or injunction for years, often at the cost of public interest”
Justice P.N. Bhagwati, in his Law Day speech in 1985 addressed the concerns about the judicial system and said that it is presently suffering from an ailment and is on the verge of collapse. So, not only the present generation, but also the past several generations have been suffering from the pace and inefficiencies of the adjudicating authority.
So what’s the solution?
●Increase the number of Courts and judges so that an individual judge is not weighed down by several matters pending in his list.
●Encourage people to settle disputes out of court
●Change the attitude of litigants.
●Make Changes to avoid procedural delays, mainly by means of injunction and adjournment.
●To increase number of interlocutory applications filled after the disposal of main case.
●Avoid unnecessary long vacations in Court.
●Avoid laxity in Court work by police personnel and other agencies involved in investigation procedures.
●Lack of quality judges in lower judiciary, administrative glitches and allegations of corruption.
●Upgrade adequate infrastructure, courtrooms.
●Ensure proper implementation/functioning of Alternate Dispute resolution, Lok Adalat etc.
●Remove existing discrepancies in the legislature material i.e Codes, Act.
●Ensure no strike by lawyers
●Making various and possible changes in Judicial reforms to improve the judiciary system:
●Full utilization of court working hours
●Reduce vacation days of court.
●Cases filled on similar contentions and arguments, clubbed together with the help of technology and pass a priority judgement.
●More benches should be created to increase the number of judges.
●Decide a time frame for the oral arguments, unless it is a matter of constitutional interpretation.
●Proper functioning of fast track courts like Lok Adalat, legal aid.
●Removal of archaic and vague laws.
●Better training of judicial officers and judges.
●Effective, Transparent functioning of Bar Council of India.
●Effective management of lower judiciary by their respective high courts in order to curb corruption and nepotism.
365 Working Days and 24×7 Working of Courts
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
This one thought forms the basis of the entire fundamental right of just and speedy trial as guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. But the question to be answered in these Covid times is whether the same fundamental right is being satisfied. Well, an expected answer would be that the Hon’ble Courts are trying their level best by working with limited staff and restrictive timings in order to achieve the goal of the aforementioned thought, but are their efforts enough? Or is there something else that can also be done. The answer is the working of Hon’ble Courts 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Since December 2018, till April 2021 there has been an increase of 23% in the number of pending cases just at the District Level (Source: National Judicial Data Grid). Such gruesome figures are actually 3.45 crore cases that have been pending due to the pandemic. The big task on the shoulders of our Indian Judiciary is to dispose them off with relatable ease and speed. One probable solution can also be to increase the number of courts but that becomes an expensive solution as a huge amount of capital would be required for construction, furniture, interior and all the other necessary cost for setting up a Court. So instead of doing this, why not to use the already present infrastructure but at a rate more than the current use i.e. Hon’ble Courts working for two shifts, one in the day and other in the night, a 24/7 working concept.
With the addition of a 24 hours working concept one can easily work out a system where the court procedures can be bifurcated based on their lengthiness, procedure, presence of the client and the nature of the proceeding. It might take place like the arguments, cross-examination and submission of evidence can take place in the morning shift and the procedures like summons and submission of applications can take place in the night shift.
It’ll be a drastic change for sure, with the very core of functioning of Indian Judiciary being reformed, but it is the need of this hour. Such function will surely help in:
●Creation of opportunities in the legal practice as a separate set of advocates will be required for working for the other shift.
●It’ll reduce the burden on the Courts by allowing them to bifurcate the tiring and lengthy process and conduct the functioning smoothly.
●Suit the working schedule of the night owls who prefer working for late hours than in early morning.
●It’ll also help those civilians who are tired of spending their entire day in the court proceedings.
●Matters of trivial nature could be conducted in the both the shifts so that the case gets disposed off early.
●Better productivity by every single person working in the law courts as the case burden on each one of them would decrease
●Increasing the productivity of the economy as the long and tiring process of courts would now be resolved easily thereby allowing the relief as sought, in less time.
●Increased faith in the power of courts and its proceedings amongst the general public
Success is dependent on effort
Having discussed all these facts, figures, situations and suggestions, what really matters at the end is the effort. Effort to make the Indian Judiciary efficient enough to handle the massive numbers of cases it receives. Such efforts have to be made not only by the Bar but also by the Hon’ble Judges, the Advocates and every single person working in this fraternity. The success of this effort will be reflected when a layman would not think thrice before approaching the Hon’ble Courts to seek justice.