Justice delayed is justice denied

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Author : aniket1
Published on : October 23, 2010

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Aniket Pandey pursuing integrated BBA(llb)specialization in corporate and business laws from University of Petroleum and energy studies.Major interest in Intellectual Property Rights and business laws.

Justice delayed is justice denied 2010

The so called great English politician and also the former prime minister William Edwart Gladstone (1809-1898) quoted “Justice delayed is justice denied.”[1]

I agree that people are losing faith in judiciary. It is mainly because of long delays at all points, the reluctance of all the judges to give the judgments and the inevitable adjournments. That is why people are approaching the mafia which believe in out summary justice.[2]

There is an advertisement which often comes on television . The ad of a plywood company which has scene of court in it.

The ad shows two lawyers arguing a case . The beginning of ad shows two young lawyers while case keeps getting adjourned . The ad ends with two aging lawyers (same people who played young). The accused too has become old man .The case again gets adjourned . The theme of ad is that their plywood is timeless and the table top which judge uses is made from their plywood which he keeps using for banging it while adjourning the case. Their punch line is 'chalta raahe chalta raahe' which means keeps going.

The ad is satire on Indian judicial system. Indian judiciary is last hope for citizens of India. One of main pillars of democracy , it along with media is one to which people look upto while administrative system and police is accused of being highly corrupted. Indian politicians , bureaucrats and police are among least trusted people of India while judiciary is seen as least corrupted and institute that does stand for people of India.

Sixty long years ago we declared ourselves as independent but still the process delivering justice to people is delayed and causes frustration as well as disgust towards the existing judicial system. The judiciary of our country is regarded as the best and independent by the western press. Its path-breaking judgments and fearlessness are appreciates by one and all. But the only criticism against it is that it is very slow and recognizes the right of the parties only after their death. It's a fact that in most of the cases the grandsons are appearing before the court and fighting the cases filed by their grandparents. The common saying among the litigants is that in court battle both parties to the dispute are losers only lawyers are the gainer.

The reasons for the pathetic state are many, Government occasionally comes out with same cosmetic changes like establishing tribunals for the motor accident claims tribunals for accident cases, administrates tribunals for service matters, debt recovery tribunals to decide bank cases, consumer forums for consumer cases are a few among them. These tribunals have not delivered much, except the cases were transferred to them from regular courts. Inordinate delays and repeated adjournments on frivolous grounds are generally contributing to the delays. The age-old saying goes that justice delayed is justice denied. A judge should been the parties at length examine all the available evidence and then has to decide the case. In the process if a party suffers then for that we need not blame any one. Everything is done to serve the justice only. In the bargain, cases were not decided.

Reality Of Judicial System
As of 2008 there was about 10,000 courts in India .Out of these, one Supreme Court, 21 High Courts, 3150 District Courts, 4861 Munsif and 1st class Magistrate courts and 1964 2nd class Magistrate courts are there. Besides, there are many tribunals. There are 4.04 crores cases pending in different district courts across the country while there is a backlog of 34 lacks cases in State High Courts. 1,66,77,657 criminal cases are pending before Magisterial courts and 72,37,495 civil cases are pending in various subordinate courts. As many as 70 percent of these cases are -litigations from villagers. Again some of these cases are as long as 25 to 30 years old. The longer a case runs, the more expensive it becomes to pursue.

Currently as per the available information, there are more than 3 crore civil cases pending in various court in the country. There are 2.75 crore cases in lower courts, more than 50 lakh cases in high court and more than 20,000 cases in the Supreme Court.

The government has not addressed the causes for delay seriously. Many amendments were done to reduce the back log, but these amendments certainly will not reduce the back-lock overnight. The basic issue is that by delaying the progress of the case, one party is getting advantage and the other one is suffering, the delays in deciding case is due to shortage of judges and staff and poor infrastructure. In lower courts everyday around 70 to 80 cases are called and all the cases are adjourned without any progress, complainants and opposite visit in courts only for taking dates. One can observe this unending process, before all courts. The parties to the dispute are all aware that, by just one call from the court's office, their case is adjourned to another 6 months and the party, who is in need of adjournment, is benefited. The government should solve this by appointing more judges, and by limiting the call matters to a maximum of 25 cases per day. The whole society will be in jeopardy, as the entire judicial system will collapse under its own weight. In the words of K. G. Balakrishnan, Hon'ble Chief Justice of India, ".... the peoples faith in the judicial system will begin to wane, because justice that is delayed is forgotten, excluded and finally discharged ...[3]

Reality Of Age Old Cases
There are several cases where judgements were delivered by courts after a long time. In Safdar Hasmi murder case, for example, who was killed by political opponents, the criminals were punished after a long 15 years. In Tanduri murder case, the accused a Delhi Congress Leader Susil Sarma was convicted with death sentence after long 8 years 6 months. He murdered Nayna Sahani and destroyed evidence by burning her body within a Delhi based hotel. In Model Jesicalal Murder case and Madhumita Sharma Murder case, accused persons were punished after a long legal battle. The Supreme Court of India is not even immune to delays. It's much acclaimed -- judgment in the D.K. Basu case in 1996, known for its directives aimed to prevent custodial torture, took ten years to be reached. If a judgment takes this long time in the Supreme Court what can be expected from courts of lesser authority?

In the Uphaar case it is shocking that it took six years to establish that the 59 people died because of criminal negligence on the part of the cinema management and the Delhi government. It was clear from day one that nobody would have died had the cinema followed safety rules but because the wheels of Indian justice move at the pace of our national vehicle - the bullock cart - it took six years for justice to be done. And, if the Ansal family and the guilty officials decide to appeal it could be many more years before justice is really done.

In Jessica Lal’s case the situation is even more tragic because justice may never be done. She was shot dead in a Delhi bar in full view of several people. It was on the basis of their statements that the police built their case against Manu Sharma and he, himself, fled the crime scene and remained on the run for days, something he would have been unlikely to do had he been innocent. But, as time went by, witnesses to the murder suddenly became unable to identify him as the killer so he is already out on bail and will probably remain free and go on to a long and successful career as a politician.[4]

In a democracy, the courts belong not to the lawyers and judges but to the `citizen', as Jerome Frank wrote. Once we accept this democratic dimension of the Judiciary, the rule of law gains a philosophical elevation. The highest is not above the law; the humblest is not beneath the law. The true conception of the administration of justice is that the lowly concern of the least person is of the highest consideration to the state and the court.[5]

In Anil Rai vs. State of Bihar case, Sethi J stated that Delay in disposal of the cases facilitates the people to raise eyebrows, sometime genuinely, which if not checked, may shake the confidence of the people in this judicial system. Thereafter this problem of delay in justice delivery system had engaged attention of our law commission for a quite a long time. To cope up with this situation they have proposed several amendments. But the position retains unchanged.[6]

In Sheilu Barse’s case, the court had repeated, in his own words, what five judges of the Supreme Court had said on the very narrow of independence: “If the allegations are true, obviously it would be to the benefit of public to bring these matters into light”.[7]Many questions were raised on the verdict of Bhopal Gas Leakage the answer of which lies with the Judiciary.

The Priyadarshini Mattoo case drew celebrity and common people alike in the quest for justice. There are other high-profile cases pending all over the country and families of victims will draw courage from latest verdict of Supreme court. But Priyadarshini will not come back. And Chaman Lal Mattoo has aged while fighting for something that should have come in the natural course of things.

Let us consider some famous or rather in famous cases which took media attention and made entire nation waiting for the verdict.The first case being on Bombay (mumbai) serial blast. The blast that rocked mumbai was unprecedented . For first time a metro city of India was targeted by serial blast. It killed 250 people and injured 700 people. The attack is believed to be carried out by d-compnay and tiger memom is chief accused who is still absconding.It took 13 years for court to reach judgment of the case. 129 people were arrested , out of which 100 were found guilty.

Today another highly covered case's judgment has come. The tragic Bhopal gas verdict has found all 8 accused to be guilty. Deadly methyl isocyanate gas leak from the Union Carbide plant on December 2nd and 3rd in 1984.It killed thousands . The chairman of union Carbide Corporation of the US , Mr Warren Anderson has been declared absconding while one of accused died during trial. 25 years for verdict in case which killed thousands of people of India.

Ruchika Girhotra Case made headlines few months back. It outraged the nation seeing powerful police personnel getting away with small imprisonment after 19 years of the criminal offense. He molested ruchika who was minor at that time. He used all his might to make life difficult for ruchika and her family. Ruchika committed suicide while her family was ruined. Active media made sure the case reaches drawing room of every Indian , this brough immense pressure on administration and rocked parliament too. Currently rathore has been given 1.5 years of prison and cbi is looking forward to file case for abatement of suicide. It took 19 years for friends of ruchika and her family to get justice.

An honorable judge has once said that with current volume of cases pending , it would take another 300 years for judges to give verdict. Justice delayed in justice denied goes the saying and Indian Law ministry has to coordinate with judiciary system to make sure faster justice is delivered.

The Anglo- Saxon jurisprudence is followed in most of the countries and has delivered good results through out the world. But in India, we the people, failed to take advantage, and become a laughing stock in the world. We are all blaming that law delays are a stumbling block in over progress. But we should try to rectify the mistakes in the system, and by to bring back its part glory. Only then we will get its fruits. To introduce reforms, and to streamline the system, a strong political will and allocation of necessary finances from the government is necessary. Till then the reforms will remain on paper only and the sufferers is the client.At last but not the least “To cut the gorgians knot is always a hard nut to crack.” Which means it is not easy to resolve a complex problem.

[1] http://www.quotationpage.com./quotes/willim_Glad stone
[2] Justice B. Kanwar Lentip. Former senior most Judge of the Bombay High Court.
[3] "Backlog of cases causing concern : CJI." The Hindu, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007
[4] http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2003010700561000.htm&date=2003/01/07/&prd=th&
[5] http://iecolumnists.expressindia.com/full_column.php?content_id=23229
[6] 2001-(088)-AIR -3173 -SC
[7] AIR 1952 SC 148.

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: aniketpandey@legalserviceindia.com