Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
'Justice delayed is Justice denied', the oft quoted words of William Goldstone best portrays the judicial system prevalent in our country. It is imperative to note that both the Bar and the Bench have an exceedingly contributed to the delays in the settlement of cases. on a broad analysis it is necessary to note that Judiciary is the most high-held organ of the government comparatively. With this status, it is pertinent that we analyse the cause of delays and the practical solution to overcome this backlog.
Broad Spectrum of Causes
As we have known, read and observed, certain inherently tied up reasons contribute to the judicial delays. First and foremost, it is necessary to admit the deficiency in the number of Judges. The immediate question is, of we increase the number of judges, will the adjudicatory process speed up? The answer cannot be in the negative, but of course, it will contribute to the process. Secondly, the ever increasing number of appeals beyond doubt makes the settlement of claims long drawn. Following appeals are the most known causes of adjournments, pass over, non appearance of the advocates, and at times non availability of the judges equally contribute to the inordinate delays in settling the cases. on an explanatory note, for example, when an advocate does not appear, it might turn out to be an ex parte order, thereafter, the advocates strenuously argue to set aside the ex parte order, which is yet another petition all together.
In addition, we have other allied reasons contributing to the judicial delays namely delay in filing papers, counters, further proceedings to condone the delays etc. In addition we have absence of a straitjacket work culture very well indicated by frequent boycotts and procedural delays which slacken the process of rendering speedy justice. One other reason that lawyers would accept is the limited court time available to put forth the case. Indeed, the court works for five to six hours a day, which is nowhere as compared to the heap of close to 3.1 Million cases pending. At this juncture, what has to be done?
Need of the Hour
There is no purpose in an ideological talk in absence of reality. All that we need is a practical approach and realistic moves to ensure that at l;east to a reasonable degree the delays in rendering justice comes down. categorically stated, some solutions which would best speed up the process may be._
(a) Increase the number and appoint more qualified judges
We know for sure that our judiciary is best qualified. However when there is a move to increase the number of judges, increase the number of court rooms, it is also important that we choose to appoint the most highly qualified judges of extreme intellect and grit.
(b) Bring in Tribunals and quasi judicial bodies
There is a pressing need to increase the tribunals and quasi judicial bodies especially where the number of matters are in an unprecedented increase, like for example, bring in tribunals for settling property related claims, introduction of a judicial panel separately dedicated for cases concerning technical matters will also lessen the burden on the over burdened courts.
(c) Improve physical and technological infrastructure
It is often quoted that the infrastructure facilities in lower courts ought to be improved; however it is not only an appeal for physical infrastructure, but also for technological infrastructure. On a sheer analysis we can beyond doubt hold that it is the prestigious judiciary which is technologically poor. Introduction of online systems for filing cases, returns, documents and if feasible, for conducting proceedings for cases like chamber matters, party in person issues, will not plunge upon the court timing, will avoid unnecessary procedural delays and will speed up the process of justice delivery.
(d) Tab on settling cases
It is not an impossibility to set a tab limit to settle disputes. The Bench can insist on settling cases expediently within a maximum time of six to eight months which is definitely a reasonable time period to settle disputes. Such a tab though may not be strictly complied with, at all times but will at least emerge as a starter for bringing down the unnecessary delays caused.
(e) Adjournments, pass over, unnecessary appeals
This is a very crucial causa causans contributing to the delays. It is imperative that the Bar insists on not permitting adjournments and appeals on flimsy grounds. At the same time we need a tab on the number of appeals. Finality of the decisions ought to be the primary imposition, especially when cases come on appeal from the tribunals.
Pass over at times also lead to delays as pass over of a case from the morning schedule to the end of the day might lead to the matter not reaching at all and thus leading to the inordinate delays in securing justice to the ailing litigant.
(f) Encourage Alternate Dispute Resolution systems
We need to establish a scrutiny committee or a scrutiny cell that would screen cases that need to go to the court, and the rest which can be settled through the alternate dispute resolution systems of Arbitration, mediation, conciliation, etc. In such cases, the trivial cases are to be screened out and only those which require court’s assistance and attention will have to pass through the corridors of the judicial intellect.
(g) Independent Investigative Authority
The state of criminal investigation is no less different than the judicial delays. The obvious result is that a number of under trial prisoners languish in prisons for years together. We need an investigation authority dedicated for the sole purpose of criminal investigation to speed up the process.
Inter alia, we have several other measures like that of increase the hearing time of the cases, bring down excessive judicial transfers, encourage settlement of cases like property matters, matrimonial matters by lok adalats, meet filing delays with penalties, ensure punctuality of both the Bar and the Bench, encourage more of mobile courts to settle petty disputes, etc.
On a concluding note, it is important that these reforms fins a mention in the laws governing the members of the Bar and the Bench, as these as a moral obligation will not serve the purpose. Thus when the following changes are being made mandatory than being directory, it will for sure bring down the delay in settlement of cases and thereby instil in the minds of litigants and the citizens that Judiciary is indeed the temple of justice at the right pace and that securing Justice will not become a pipe dream.