QUALITY OF INDIAN JUSTICE

I’ve constantly heard that it’s always better to settle out of court than to go to court and this intrigued me. With a large population which is poor, justice should be available at every nook and cranny like the age-old justice dispensation system where the village got together and resolved a matter under a tree. Just like how we have a neighbourhood police station or hospital.

Becoming a Judge is in my opinion the closest one can get to God. To be able to provide justice after going through all evidence presented should be one of the most satisfying experiences considering the power that vests in a single person capable of delivering justice.

With over 33 million cases pending in all courts and growing, there are insufficient number of judges to tackle this. To add to the woes, the quality of judgements that are being dished out are poor and often open to interpretation which makes one wonder if the system really means well for the justice seeker or is the system discouraging people to approach the courts?

A classic adage “Justice delayed is justice denied” should resonate hard within court walls. Of the 29.7 Million cases pending in the lower courts, if the approximately 17700 judges presiding could dispose off just 1 case a day, considering only 18 working days a month, would only close 3.8 million cases in one year. However, if they were to close 6 cases a day, voila! Sadly, the will to dispense quick justice isn’t there at the moment.

An interesting change recently is the massive increase in supreme court and high court judge salaries and perks to more than 2.5 lakhs per month. If the same is done for the lower courts, then a lot of experienced lawyers will vie for the judges post and suddenly there will be a massive pool of talented people (if merit is the absolute criteria).

Then there is the need for judges to have deep subject knowledge. I’ve seen judges presiding over cases where their domain knowledge is deeply lacking and the ensuing judgement reeks of their lack of subject knowledge. It is imperative that a financial crime, real estate dispute or consumer case to state a few examples are handled by judges who have atleast 10 years of legal experience in that domain prior to becoming a judge. Having a judge with poor domain knowledge is like visiting a dentist for a heart transplant.

Also, just like domain expertise is required, it’s also important that judges come from the same geography where the courts are as they would understand the city or towns inner workings to be able to dispense better justice. It’s difficult for a judge from Karwar to understand the ground realities of Bangalore unless they spend time in that city to learn about its people and it’s ways.

It’s time the courts woke up and changed for the better to give honest people justice swiftly and have criminals think twice before committing a crime.

Raj Kaushik – Vitarkka

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