This article was written by Navdisha Sehgal a student of JIMS, School of Law, GGSIPU.
The Indian judiciary system is very generous in its approach towards punishment. It works on the principle of ‘thousand criminals may go unpunished but an innocent shall not been punished.’ This benefit is availed by the criminals as well.
The whole set up of judiciary is made in such a way that there intentional delay. India has about 1.2 million judges per 1, 00,000 population, which is very less. In 120th Report of Law Commission, recommended to increase the ratio of 5 judges per 1 lakh. But even after this goal is achieved we would be lagging behind many countries. The US has nearly 11 judges per 1lakh population, Sweden has 13, China has 17 and Germany has 25. India’s population is 1.2 billion and is still growing.
Also, there is lack of infrastructure and logistical facilities for courts. The judiciary is not well equipped and there is deficiency in resources. But this is not the only reason. Judges and lawyers are equally responsible. Some judges easily give adjournments and then dates keep on shifting. Even lawyers also deliberately do this because for each hearing they get paid. So the reasons are manifold. Lawyers and judges sometimes don’t do their homework and don’t come prepared which leads to a lengthy argument in courts.
In India, the constitution is the supreme authority. There is a strong analogy between criminal justice system and the constitution. While constitution guarantees some fundamental rights, the criminal justice system protects it from being violated or denied in anyway, its performance has a direct impact on the process of achieving the aims and objectives of the Constitution. The Constitution declares violation of some of the fundamental Rights as offences punishable under law, the criminal justice administration has a direct responsibility to enforce these rights and curb their violation. Contravention of some other Fundamental Rights such as right to life and personal liberty is offence under the criminal laws the enforcement of which is the responsibility of the criminal justice administration.
Though in constitution there are many provisions which safeguard the right of speedy trial but the judiciary takes a lot of time in making judgements in the cases, (as the delay is deliberately made by the political leaders who exercise their influence.)
Some of the cases are as follows:
- Salman Khan’s hit and run case; it took around 13 years to give verdict of the case.
- 26/11 attack; it took around 4 years to give death sentence to the only alive culprit Ajmal Kasab.
- Noida double murder case; 14 year old Aarushi Talwar and 45 year old Hemraj Banjade, servant, was murdered.
- Sanjeev Nanda case
- Uphaar case
- Jessica Lal’s case
- Chaibasa Fodder Scam case; it took 17 years to decide.
- LN Mishra case; trial lasted for 40 years.
- Parliamentary Attack case; after about 12 years, the accused was given punishment for the crime he committed.
- Priyadarshini Mattoo case
In all the above mentioned cases, the justice was delayed. Either the accused were given punishment, but after a period of more than 5 years or they are still free and are living their lives in the country.
In October 2009, the Government of India approved in principle a National Mission to reduce pendency and delays in the judicial system and enhances accountability through structural changes, higher performance standards and capacity-building. When it was realized that without judicial reform the development agenda cannot be carried forward, the 13th Finance Commission made specific recommendations for the grant of funds to improve justice delivery. Law minister Veerappa Moily had announced a plan to release a large percentage of the under-trial population by the end of 2010, reducing the number of 300,000 by two-thirds within six months by ordering the release of those charged with petty crimes.
Law commission have also suggested and made some reforms as in the case of Imtiyaz Ahmad v/s State of UP, this case started as a petition against delays in criminal trials. Law commission came with its 245th report titled “Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial Woman power.” In this case, creation of additional courts, elimination of delays, speedy clearance of arrears and reduction in costs was suggested.
The Law Commission, in its 14th Report, observed, “Delays in the disposal of cases and the accumulation of arrears are in a great measure due to the inability of the judicial officers to arrange their work methodically and to appreciate and apply the provisions of the Procedural Codes.”Commission, in its 117th Report, concluded that the “updating of the knowledge and skill can hardly be left to the voluntary effort of individual judges. It is conceded that training can significantly upgrade the capability of everyone called upon to perform a duty. It is all the more so in the case of judicial officers, because sociology of law is acquiring new and added significance in the development of the society.”
There is urgently need to improve the basic infrastructure and management of resources. Modern technology and use of computers could also increase the efficiency of the court system. The judiciary has also to learn management techniques through training at all levels. Though, the Supreme Court and High Courts are having good infrastructure but this is not the same position with lower courts.
Our criminal justice system has the urgent requirement of Independent Investigative Agency. Delay in police investigation is also one reason due to which cases linger on for years. It is, therefore, good to create an independent wing of police force, fully in charge of crime investigation, and functioning under the direct control of independent prosecutors. That wing should be accountable to judiciary and not to particular government of a time. The practice of torture and third degree methods, extra judicial execution in fake encounters may be stopped also when crime investigation machinery became accountable to judiciary. Such type of police wing also became knowledgeable about the type and method of the evidence needed. Hence, baseless cases, which lead acquittal, also could come down. So, there should be co-ordination between police and prosecuting agencies.
We have inherited British legal system, Britishers prescribed it at that time, without considering the need of Indian society nor did they consider the practical of the procedure. So, this system is drawn from different sources without seeing the ground realities. Some people today prefer to keep quiet, rather than go to the court of law. So, now this system is more Indianised for making it fit to society. It is heard that in ancient time justice system was very good. The disputes were settled on the spot by delivering justice. But ancient justice proceedings were oral in general and therefore not much record is available. Now we can take modem know-how from the countries, which have best justice delivery system by getting acquainted with the procedure followed there, if fit to Indian society. The civil and criminal procedure codes and the laws of evidence have to be substantially revised to meet the requirements of modem judicial administration. Though most of procedural laws are effective even today but some provision needs revision, especially the civil laws. To lessen the burden of cases, we may introduce the concept of’ Plea-bargaining’ by decriminalization of those wrongs, which can justly be dealt with by compensatory remedies
As justice delayed is justice denied, similarly, the saying, justice hurried is justice buried is equally true. Therefore, sufficient, reasonable and due hearing of every cases with consideration of its circumstances is the necessary requirement of natural justice and balance of convenience. In fact, the untiring efforts put by fear and flavorless Indian Judiciary is doing commendable job of imparting justice inspite of so many difficulties, which created faith of public in the rule. Of law is a great achievement, which really requires deep appreciation.