The issue of judicial pendency is highly prevalent in the Indian judicial system, present estimates suggest that the number of pending cases amount to almost three crore. A recent study of judicial pendency commissioned by the department of justice has revealed that the average waiting period for trial in lower courts is around 10 years while it is 2-5 years in high courts. Statistics and reports such as these further highlight the inadequacies of the judicial system which has been a point of frustration amongst the general public. These frustrations are reflected in slogans like ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ which have become part of day to day conversation in India. Unfortunately for the general public any trip to a court of law represents a long cumbersome process which is to be avoided at all costs.
While the frustration of the general public is understandable another side effect of judicial delay has largely been ignored in prevailing discussions on the matter. The judiciary forms an important part of the administrative apparatus of the Indian state and the proper functioning of the judicial arm is not only important for the protection of individual rights but is also important for the implementation of various policy decisions undertaken by the government especially in the context of illegal infiltration. The subject of illegal immigration is quite a sensitive one due to the very tricky task of differentiating between citizens and non-citizens as any lapse in the system of determination or judgement can render a legitimate citizen of India stateless. While deciding on the status of one’s citizenship the court has to be particularly careful due to the consequences of its decision on the individual’s life. Any haste in the matter is unadvisable while any extended delays in the identification of illegal immigrants poses a threat to national security. To ensure proper judgement on the matter pertaining to one’s citizenship the Supreme Court of India has asked for an increase in the number of foreigners tribunals which are tasked with the identification of illegal immigrants as per the Foreigners tribunal act of 1946. While the increased attention of the Supreme Court has led to the increase in the number of tribunals the problems of judicial delay still prevails. Moreover the functioning of the foreigners tribunal has either been too slow to curb illegal immigration or too hasty to come to a proper judgement, leading to harassment of legitimate citizens. Citizens form the basis on which any successful democracy is built and hence the protection of the rights of citizens is an essential duty of the government. The problem of Illegal immigration has been a threat to North East India for decades and the glacial pace of the judiciary in identifying the illegal immigrants has detrimentally affected the rights of North East India. Therefore sound infrastructure needs to be put in place with urgency, one that is efficient in identifying Illegal immigrants without hindering legitimate citizens of India.