The Guardian Needs To Guard Itself

Judiciary is one of the “pillars of democracy” that has stood the test of time, but recently it is being observed in more ways than one that there is something amiss.

As the guardian of the constitution, the judiciary should not only be above the board in protecting rights of common citizen, but should also appear so. Delay in delivery of justice makes people lose faith in judiciary, which is placed at the highest pedestal.

A slight deviation from the written path will put it in jeopardy which may be a point of no return that we can’t afford. We must, therefore, identiy the factors that impede the proper and prompt delivery of justice. In my view, there are 7 factors as under:

1. Huge Pendency of Cases
Justice delayed is justice denied, but around 4.45 crore cases are pending across all courts in India. This figure was 3.3 crore only two years back. The continuous increase in pendency causes further delay in justice. Setting up of “fast track courts” may help whittle away the backlog.

2. Shortage of Judges
We need 50 judges per one million population against the present 11. But even now more than 450 judges’ positions are vacant in 25 High Courts.  Incompetence and inefficiency of some judges are also not hidden.

3. Long Vacations
All sorts of vacations like Dussehra, Diwali, winter and summer are observed in courts. Why should it not be curtailed and streamlined with the government offices? Absence of work culture and punctuality is also not uncommon.

4. Suo motu Action
Taking suo motu notice of some urgent public interest is okay, but then the fingers are pointed for being discriminatory, as some more important cases are left in lurch. Some of the recent events are glaring examples.

5. Contempt of Court
Disobedience to an order or direction is treated as contempt that throttles the voice of people that impinges upon the right to freedom of speech. This needs to be rationalised in a free country.

6. Judicial Activism
When a court starts adorning itself with administrative powers, it doesn’t bode well with the independent functioning of the three pillars of democracy, i.e. executive, legislative and judiciary. The lines are getting blurred. Judiciary is supposed to interpret the law, and not to rewrite it.

7. Preach, But Practise Too
The governments are pulled up by courts for not doing something in a day or week. The same yardstick should also be applied for themselves.
Why do courts not shun vacations and sit late to wipe out the backlog of pending cases? Why cases of rich and influential people are heard and finalised within days?

Courts should ponder why people now prefer “out of court” settlements. What will happen if people start approaching “mafia” that believe in out summary justice?

In order to clear a long backlog of cases, a Mediation bill has been introduced in December’21 to legalise mediation, which means settling disputes with the help of an independent mediator outside regular courts.

With implementation of this bill, we may expect delivery of justice in a time-bound manner. The ideal thing should be to hear the petition the very next working day of filing it.

The courts must, however, introspect seriously how to retain the faith and respect they deserve. Public confidence in courts is essential for smooth running of democracy and constitution.

–Kaushal Kishore

images: pixabay

17 Comments

  1. Reading your eloquent and perceptive post, Kaushal, I have to remind you how many times I have told you that you should be running the country!! I know your response to that, but it is really a pity. Every word you have written, apart from Suo Motu, an Indian legal term, taken from Latin, that is an equivalent of our SuoSponte, on its own motion, can apply in this country.
    This informative post and wonderful presentation/photos should resonate with your readers and stay in our memory for a long time. Thank you, Kaushal!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know how to respond to your sentiment. I’m speechless. Thank you, Joanna that you think like this. I’m grateful to you. It truly means a lot. I also came to know about Suo Sponte.

      Like

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