Saturday, August 20, 2022

Strengthening the Indian Judiciary

By The Editorial Team Updated: Aug 01, 2022 10:15 pm

Union Minister for Law & Justice Kiren Rijiju has vowed to bring down total legal pendency from five crores to two crores in two years’ time. But it appears that keeping this promise will be a difficult task considering the number of vacancies in the judiciary. As many as 381 judge posts are lying vacant at present, against a sanctioned strength of 1,108 judges. As a direct fall out of this shortage, with every passing day the number of pending cases in courts are increasing manifold and people are being forced to run pillar to post to get justice. Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana has recently expressed his unhappiness over such huge judicial vacancies and lack of proper infrastructure and has blamed the executives and bureaucrats the mess.

Pendency is not a new phenomenon in the Indian judiciary. The speed at which the Indian judiciary works gives the impression that it has never heard the proverb ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’ Almost every court in the country is facing acute shortage of legal staff and that has made it highly challenging for them to finish the work on time, despite working tirelessly round the clock in dismal conditions. Even after 75 years of Indian Independence, the judiciary still functions from British-era buildings as not many new buildings meant for judiciary have been built. The old buildings are big obstacles to any reformative steps due to lack of space and/or absence of modern facilities. Moreover, these old buildings are not in a position to manage the average daily footfall as the Indian population has grown hugely over the years.

Apart from infrastructure and pendency, the security aspects of legal officers, which is a recent phenomenon, needs to be addressed. Gone are those days when criminals were afraid of the judiciary and confrontations with them. But in recent times, legal officers are being attacked by criminals, which has affected their work-life and added to mental stress. From lower courts to the Supreme Court, judges are being attacked for delivering judgements. Recently, a magistrate died mysteriously, when he was hit by an auto rickshaw while jogging beside the road in the morning in Dhanbad. The entire incident was captured on CCTV camera. Yet the police could not arrest the culprits, although on enquiry it has come to light that the Magistrate was hearing mafia related cases and had turned down bail applications of two gangsters. Similarly, a Supreme Court judge recently received death threats along with various unsavory messages on social media for admonishing the spokesman of a political party for making a comment which had strongly been criticised by various quarters. A three-pronged strategy should be adopted to strengthen the Indian judiciary- appointing more judges, updating infrastructure and ensuring safety of the judiciary are necessary steps to providing justice to every citizen of the country.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Aug 01, 2022 10:15:21 pm