The Big Picture- Judiciary 2016
There are around 3 crore cases pending in the lower courts, several lakhs in the High Courts and thousands in the Supreme Court highlighting the need for judicial reforms. The term legal reform has caught the imagination of the policy makers, judiciary and the general public taking everyone by storm. The Government and the Law Commission also jumped on to the bandwagon by implementing a slew of new measures to reform laws. However, a crucial aspect of the entire process remains ignored that is the quality of Indian law making and also law amending which functions as the fulcrum of any kind of legal reform.
Some problems faced by Judiciary:
Many posts for High Court judges are vacant but there are some radical reforms that are required to modernize the system. For example- In case of criminal justice, 60% of the cases are pending. There is a need to use better technology for recording of statements, there should be CCTVs for recoveries, chromatography, microscopy, spectograghy, laser techniques, X-Rays etc. If the statements are video recorded, then there would be much greater credibility. Rather than making the courts function only on procedures, it can be enabled by technology. While approaching the crime scene, the forensic team should be fully equipped to file chargesheet as soon as possible.
The courts are crowded, overworked and ultimately there are dates without outcomes. Also there is a need to bring societal and cultural change of obeying the law, respecting it and working in accordance with the law. Cases remain pending for a long time because of which people lose faith in judiciary. Focus has to be put up on desirable outcomes. In the first instance itself, most people should get the justice. The time taken in courts should be rationed. A judge should be given a workload like 10 cases per day and they have to be fully solved.
Some sort of management skills have to be put into the system because the judges are themselves maintaining the entire work. Lot of times, many Chief Justices have talked of having trained management people but this has not happened. There is also a tussle between executive and judiciary over who should be appointing judges rather than who should be appointed judges. This is the reason why both executive and judiciary have been unable to resolve their issues over MoP even after 1 year. There are almost 5000 vacancies in trial courts and High Courts have not done enough to fill them. This is a much serious issue as this is a place where the common man goes and if not handled properly, bulk of the cases become pending as is evident at present.
- As a part of solution, an All India recruitment exam may help in resolving the issue of appointment of judges.
- There needs to be a system where every few months, lawyers from both sides must say that a particular matter is still alive and there are people who have a stake in it. If this is done, then those matters can be handled efficiently that require urgent attention because there are lot of cases where the parties are not alive and the case is still pending.
- There is a need for court administrators to manage the entire process so that the lawyers and judges can concentrate on the cases they are assigned.
- Several hundreds of archaic and old laws have been done away with but still there are many which require attention. This will ultimately lead to decline in number of cases that are being filed because most of the laws will not be there in the books.
- There can be a Court of Appeal between the High Courts and the Supreme Court. This is present in Canada, South Africa and couple of other countries where the normal cases will go to the Court of Appeal and there these can be decided. Only constitutional cases can go to the Supreme Court which have taken a backseat. There has been recommendations from the Law Commission of India on this in the past as well.
- E-courts are being run on a trial basis. These will help in filing the documents electronically.
As far as reforms are concerned, they cannot be implemented until and unless the existing system is used to the best. Every step has to be in sync with each other to reduce the burden that judiciary faces.