NEED FOR JUDICIAL REFORMS NOW STARK : SHANTONU SEN @narendramodi @pmoindia #law #legal

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A leading news papers of India, the Hindustan Times , Delhi concluded that its the workload and the poor infrastructure that bleeds the judicial system The Chief Justice of India R M Lodha has bluntly pronounced “Governments think the judiciary is a non-productive organ of the State”. What facts have forced this grim conclusion ? How is there inadequate infrastructure? Why has the Chief Justice of India said ” the system is suffering from severe anemia. The manpower and infrastructure for trial courts are far short for what is required. And political parties simply do not have the will to address the issue.” A former Delhi High Court justice R S Sondhi is bitter and says “nobody wants to spend on the judiciary as it will not fetch votes for them”. It is true that only 0.5% of the national budget is spent on the judiciary.

The data collected by this newspaper fully backs the blunt and bitter comments of their Lordships. On the score of poor infrastructure what has the paper discovered? There are, in the whole country, only 4,223 Courts that have their own building and as many as 757 function from hired premises. Land has not been allotted to 330 of them to build their own court. Their proposal for posts, funds etc stagnate for years and in Sept 2013 the number of proposals under consideration of the various Government was 7894.

This is happening when our country has a sanctioned strength of 13 judges for every one million people. Most functional democracies and civilizations have 50 judges for every one million of their population. We add to our woes as to this abysmal strength there are huge vacancies as the Executive does not ensure making timely selection and appointments. The figures speak for themselves. The total strength of the Apex court is 31 as on August 2014. There were 5 vacancies as in the beginning of August 2014( as of now its one ) . . The High Courts are no better , probably worse. In December 2013 the High Courts of India had 906 posts and functioning Justices were 640. The remaining , 266, are what ,euphemistically ,could be called absentee judges. In August 2014 the position has worsened. Against 950 post of Judges of High Courts there are 301 vacancies. In the subordinate courts and it is they who determine the facts in all proceedings. as on September 2013 in these courts there were 19,218 posts and a only a shocking 14, 942 were presiding and hearing litigants. Over 4000, have not been appointed. The selection process , itself , is cumbersome and long.

The Collegium appoints judges to the High Court and the Supreme Court only. The State Governments are responsible for not appointing judges in the subordinate Courts. Such is the mess in the State Governments that as many as fourteen of them and one centrally administered state have not responded to Supreme Courts notice calling upon them to explain how they propose to overcome delays in Courts. They have been each fined Rs 25000/ each for their dereliction by a Bench presided by Justice Thakur on 20/08/2014 . We do not have even 13 judges for each million people and these States are indifferent. .The position is nightmarish.

Naturally, millions of people, 55 thousand in the Supreme Court and 60 million in other courts all involved in court proceedings are waiting for them to end. Prime Minister Modi has suggested that this indefinite wait may be shortened / curtailed for our members of parliament and legislatures. The Chief Justice of India has gently reminded him that the voters of India also wait and he must not discriminate between those who vote and those who get voted in to power and privileges. He has declined to discriminate. The ball has been firmly lobbed back to the Prime Minister’s court.
The Criminal Justice System is past the collapsing stage and .not just because policing as its often said, in the country is at fault. Absence of a modicum of judicial reform is the root cause. Judiciary is the third State , the other two being the Executive and the Legislature, which displays the actual face of governance of our country. That face today is not attractive both from outside and inside. The picture of corruption that is corroding it from inside is now out in the open. The blogs of a former Supreme Court Judge Justice Markandya Katju expose some of it.. Much of it like the iceberg is not visible.

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