The Supreme Court (SC) is considered as the ultimate interpreter of the constitution. In India, there is a single integrated judicial system organized in pyramidal form. At the apex of the entire judicial system stands the Supreme Court of India.
Immediately below the SC are the various High Courts and below them are be subordinate courts in each state.
These days, Indian Judiciary has been facing constant attacks from almost all sides which are mentioned below –
-> The delay on finalizing the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges and therefore increasing backlogs in courts.
-> Attempts to make judiciary corrupt by offering juicy post and houses after retirement, which hampers credibility & integrity of the judicial system.
-> Attempts to circumvent judicial orders by executive notification or Ordinances. For example, declaring state highway as Urban road to bypass judicial order on Banning Alcohol on highway, Jallikattu.
-> Non-conformity to Supreme court directives by executives. For example, Suggestions on Triple Talaq, 7 directives on police reforms etc.
-> The increased Tribunalisation in the country and involvement of politicians in their functioning. (SC has already requested the Law Commission to examine whether Tribunalisation was obstructing effective working of the apex court).
-> Indian Legislature’s constant attempt to introduce transparency in judicial appointment by introducing NJAC, considered by the judiciary as an infringement in the independence of judicial system.
From Judiciary itself:
-> The efficiency of collegium system and nepotism in judiciary has been the burning issue in Indian judicial system.
-> Lack of transparency and accountability in appointment & transfer of judges.
-> Constant corruption allegations on HC judges raises questions on the decision of Collegium to promote such people.
-> Lack of professional ethics of advocacy and conduct by the advocates and petitioners despite proper guidelines by the court like in Union of India vs. Cipla case.
Pendency of Cases:
Indian court’s are well known for pendency of cases. There are around 59,000 cases pending in the SC, over 4 million in HCs and a mind-boggling 25 million in subordinate courts.
India has just 13 judges per million of its population. While most developed countries have 50 and some even more than 100.
Reasons for pendency of cases:
-> Culture of litigation and lack of penetration of alternative dispute redressal mechanism such as arbitration, mediation etc. Filing of the frequent government litigation keep the courts busy instead of serving justice to the people speedily.
-> The special leave petition (SLP) which the Constituent Assembly hoped would be used sparingly, but which now dwarfs the work of the Supreme Court.
-> Expensive and delayed justice: Judicial proceedings are prohibitively expensive, confusing for commoners and delay in justice delivery has denied gainful opportunities for many.
-> Lack of expertise: Judiciary lacks expertise in dealing with new age problems like Corporate Tax, Cyber laws, International treaties, Climate change and its conservative attitude is exploited and corrupt go scot free.
-> Absence of separate Commercial Courts to adjudicate on disputes of civil nature resulting in large number of pending civil suits related to various business and services related disputes in the high courts.
-> Frequent transfer of judges: Huge transfer of judges takes the interest out of them to hear the cases that their successor may give judgment to, after the transfer.
-> Frequent adjournments and indiscriminate use of writ jurisdiction.
-> Corruption: There is huge corruption in appointment especially at lower judiciary.
-> Lack of transparency: there is lack of transparency and objective appointment process.
Steps taken to reduce pendency of cases:
-> The SC in Salem Advocates Bar Association versus Union of India in 2005, said the issue being amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure and for this purpose, a Committee was constituted so as to ensure that the amendments become effective and result in quicker dispensation of justice.
-> Adoption of fast track courts to expeditiously reduce the pending cases in district and subordinate courts.
-> Mobile courts: First mobile court was inaugurated in Haryana for easy reach, but was not continued in full swing.
-> The case management system (i.e. a mechanism to monitor every case from filing to disposal) can yield remarkable results in achieving more disposal of the cases.
-> Mega Lok Adalats were conducted to reduce pendency cases.
Need of the Hour:
-> Creation of an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) along the lines of the All India Services (AIS) would some extent solve problems being faced by the Indian judiciary.
-> The present strength of the judges should be increased manifold according to the pendency, present and probable.
-> It is necessary that the work of the High Courts is decentralized, that is, more Benches are established in all States.
-> Enhancing the age of retirement of High Court and Supreme Court Judges at least by three years.
-> The judges, whose kith and kin are practicing in a High Court, should not be posted in the same High Court. This will eliminate “Uncle Judges”.
-> Once judgments are reserved on constitutional matters by larger bench or otherwise, the judgments should be delivered within a reasonable time. There is long and inordinate delay in delivering judgments which should be avoided in public interest.
-> Technological upgradation like Digitizing Courts, Automation powered by Artificial Intelligence, e-Courts etc. (The e-Court Mission Mode Project (MMP) was conceptualized with a vision to re-engineer processes and enhance judicial productivity both qualitatively and quantitatively to make the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost effective, transparent and accountable, by making use of technology).
-> Pendency – prescribed time-limits for all cases.
-> Reforms at the village level – The Gram Nyayalayas Bill has been enacted to set up more trial courts at the intermediate Panchayat level.
-> Procedural Transparency in the appointments and transfer of judges of High Courts and lower judiciary.
-> Disposal of legal disputes at pre-litigative stage by permanent and continuous Lok Adalats would provide expense-free justice to the citizens of this country.
Addressing the backlog is necessary to maintain India’s “constitutional democracy”, to adhere to “rule of law” and to “guarantee order and stability in society”. The country’s progress depends on strong judicial system which can provide quick justice because justice delayed is justice denied.
It is high time that deadlock between the judiciary and executive is resolved at the earliest to escape any institutional crisis.