JUDICIAL DELAYS IN INDIA: A CONCERN WORTH ATTENTION
Author: Aditya Yadav, II year of B.B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from The Northcap University
A significant phrase well said by a British stateman and liberal politician William during a House of Commons debate on 16 March 1868. This phrase shows that if justice is not carried out timely, then even if it is carried out later it is not really justice because there was a period of time when there was a lack of justice, and the importance of that judgment is decayed as the time passes. This is presently used to define the major drawback of our judicial system. A common person is losing its faith for a less time-consuming court proceedings. There are various number of cases lingering for as more as 25 years and till date they are unable to get access for justice. In back late 18thcentury,the phrase was used as a suggestion for Israel to increase number of judges in its litigation and court proceedings but in present time its mainly used to show the poor performance and delay of our judicial system.
India is a county with almost 138 crores for population and as per the estimated research and studies it’s been predicted that by 2023 India to become most populous nation[i] leaving behind China with almost 140.21 crores[ii]. Having a huge number of citizens there comes a greater number of disputes and cases and it require a strong judicial pillar for sustainable and proper judgement delivery and court proceedings.
MAJOR REASONS FOR DELAY OF CASES
I. Huge number of pending cases[iii]
Around 47 million cases are pending in courts in India, the government told parliament in March 2022. There were 70,154 cases pending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the number pending in the 25 high courts stood at 5,894,060 as of March 2022. Coming across this data we are able to see the real pressure and immense cases pending before our courts.
II. Shortage of various human and infrastructural resources
1. JUDGES AND JUDICIAL OFFICERS: hopelessly inadequate number of judges are undoubtedly one of the major reasons for case delays. Judge is one of the most decorated and respectful position throughout the world. As the will be no kind of judgement without a judge and is the core power and justice maker of the county. from the time of our independence decade by decade we are unable to fill up the post and vacancies for the judges. We are on our way to complete 75 years of independence on 15th august 2022 and developed but still hon’ble Supreme Court of India which is the supreme judicial authority of India and is the highest court of India. It has 30 Judges and a Chief Justice with cases pendency of 70,572 as of May 2, 2022[iv]. With a simple calculation almost 2,274 cases per a supreme court judge is there. The pressure increases as going through the high courts, district courts and subordinate courts. We can easily get a clear idea of the pressure and workload on our judges, and it makes really hard for them to solve and dispose of the cases.
2. PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE: As per the present records India have 1 Supreme court, 25 High courts, district courts or session courts and subordinate courts throughout the nation. In various courts mainly the subordinate and district level courts there are various infrastructural and management loopholes like lack of judicial infrastructure i.e. courtrooms, basic amenities which are required in a court by various court supporting staff, litigants, judges and also the court attendees. With a poor physical infrastructure, we are unable to accelerate proper functioning and disposal of cases.
3. SUPPORTING COURT STAFF: Beside the litigants arguing there matters and the judges hearing the same and passing orders and judgements and throughout this process there is a critical and predominant role and duties of the supporting court staff like the court officers, legal researchers, court clerks, as after the covid times online hearing and proceedings became prominent and necessary so various technical support team are required for smooth and unheddled court proceedings. Without these members and staff, it will be not possible for the courts to function.
III. DELAY AND PENDENCY ON BEHALF OF THE LEARNED COUNCILS there are various myths and ideologies that judges are considered the main reasons of the delay of the cases in India. But going through my own research and observation I would state that the biggest reason for the delay of cases are the advocates and litigants. As courts have various procedures and steps which should be followed in particular cases and then are heard, and orders and judgements are passed. But the councils are not working properly according to the orders of the courts and the cases are lingers for a long time. Various negligence is seen on part of the advocates which are reason for the delay of cases proceedings like not well prepared with there cases and are unable to satisfy or explain their concerns and facts to the judges.Uncomplete pleadings like not filing written arguments, rejoinder, affidavit, and other legal documents which are needed for the proceedings of the cases are not on records and the case is unable to develop and remains pending.
Judges in various courts are working day and night restlessly under huge burden of cases and the amount of stress and pressure remains to be high and as there are less and inadequate number of judicial members in different courts resulting judges have to work extra by taking other benches and court hearings which ultimately increases there working time and burden of cases.
REMEDIES AND IMPROVEMENTS TO COUNTER THE PROBLEM OF PENDING CASES
I. The number of judges and judicial officers should be increased in The Hon’ble Supreme Court, high courts and other district and subordinate courts. Although we have highlyqualified and experienced judges, but their numbers are still low according to the present cases pending and on pilling up fresh cases it’s important for the central and state government to boost the selection and placement of judges throughout the nation to distribute the cases and will fast forward the proceedings.
II.More number of Fast Track Courts should be set up along with proper and rigid directions that cases should be disposed offin a set time period. There is also a rising need to increase the number of tribunals and other judicial bodies which will help to reduces the burden of the courts. They should be supplied with adequate powers so that the litigants do not treat them like steppingstones to approach other Courts like High court or The Supreme court.
III. To avoid paperwork delays like posting of notices, hardcopy of cases files technological infrastructure like e-filing of cases, e- returnsand the case files must be stored online, which will help in both safety and speedy disposal of cases. The covid era have given it the adequate boost but further more development and awareness should be spread about the same.
IV. Cost and penalties should be imposed on the councils for various delays like late filing of various legal documents and adjournment should be limited and not be given on the cases where the councils are not following the procedure and the orders of the courts.
As the changes and solution of these problems can’t be made over night but with constant attention and sincereness of our central and state government as well as the judicial bodies we will be able to have a well defined solution for the pendency of cases in different courts by proper appointment and working.
[i]https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-to-become-most-populous-nation-by-2023-reading-the-figures-8037342/ [ii]https://datatopics.worldbank.org/world-development-indicators/ [iii]https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/indias-huge-backlog-of-court-cases-delays-justice-experts/2638784 [iv]https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-judiciary-pendency-data-courts-statistics-explain-judges-ramana-chief-justiceundertrials/article65378182.ece