Massive scams, election booth rigging through muscle power, murders in broad daylight and rapes of women on streets, in complete disregard of law and almost daring it... each of these is possible continuously and blatantly only due to one reason – the paralyzed judiciary of our country. It’s not the dearth of law but the dearth of the hand of law reaching the criminal, goon, politician, scamster and rapist. Who is scared of the law of the land? Not any of them. It’s the simple man – whose daughter is being raped and money being eaten away by corrupt politicians and other scamsters – who is afraid of the law and lives under an illusion that law exists in this country... till his daughter is shot dead in public and he dies running from pillar to post being squashed under the mesh of dates that have kept the judiciary in India dysfunctional and paralyzed. The average case takes about two decades to be solved and the person fighting for his rights is killed by our judicial system in any case unless he dies in reality as well.
As a media house, from the very beginning, we have been extremely vocal about the Indian judiciary – and that’s why we have also started our bimonthly supplement of Governance Watch with a special focus on the judiciary. We strongly believe that a poor justice delivery mechanism has been the root cause of most of our problems. It goes without saying that India has a weak, or rather a limping justice delivery system, which makes sure that justice is denied in most cases; and even if delivered, it does not hold any value, thanks to the time (read lifetime) it takes to be delivered. By the Centre’s own admission, there is a staggering number of nearly three crore court cases pending at several stages in different courts of India. This situation is a deliberate creation of our successive governments. But if criminals were to be punished, how would they be able to rule? Thus, to make the rule of criminals, the corrupt and the rapists of all other varieties easy, the governments in India over the years have deliberately kept the judicial system in our country dysfunctional.
This serves the purpose of the legal fraternity as well. Thanks to the years or decades that it takes to execute a case and to take it to its culmination, the legal fraternity invariably ends up making a windfall profit. And as I just said, thanks to the absence of a time-bound justice delivery mechanism, making moolah is not at all a challenge for our legal fraternity, as they are quite adept at purposefully making cases hang on for years. The only thing that we nowadays talk about is corruption. And the one and only solution for solving this issue of corruption as well as one that reduces all kinds of crime by a massive extent, is a functional judicial system. Criminals, rapists, greedy and corrupt people are globally prevalent; yet, they touch far lesser lives in USA than in India simply because the American judicial system is functional, while ours is dysfunctional. In America, they have ten times more judges per million people than in India; so there is a fear of immediate punishment – while in India, there is no such fear of punishment.
candle light marchThus, though I totally empathize with the fury over the police, the chief minister, the home minister and the emotionally charged demand for castration and death, the real fact is that all that we must demand for – as activists against corruption (like Arvind Kejriwal) and as activists against rape – is a total overhaul of the existing judicial system. And I will not leave my readers wondering how to go about it. I shall outline the plan. There are two key things that the government must address to make our judicial system functional. The first is to increase the number of our judges to about ten times the current figure. If we are to try and achieve such standards, we need to have an additional 100,000 judges or so. The figure seems huge, but is surely achievable; and in a span of five years too. Therefore, to have 20,000 additional judges per year, we have to budget for approximately Rs.6,000 crores per year additionally, assuming that the expenses around a judge and his office assistants put together would be (and is actually definitely) not more than Rs. 30,00,000 per year. Given our massive annual budget and given that at least we at the IIPM Think Tank have been lobbying for the same through our alternate budgets for more than 11 years now, it’s a shame to see budgets being passed year after year with no focus on the judicial machinery and with no substantive budgets being allocated for improving the said system – that too after the government bravely declared that by 2012, all the backlog of our 3 crore pending cases will be cleared. 2012 is all but over and absolutely nothing has happened in that direction. The second thing the government must do is to pass a statutory law in the Parliament that would guarantee and typically force the delivery of justice in a timely manner. In developed countries like US, for petty cases, people filing cases in the morning get justice literally by the evening. Even if India doesn’t end up being so fast, the concept of having a law that enforces that a case be adjudged within a stipulated time would be good enough. And we’re not alien to such strictures – for example, income tax cases in India, at least at the assessing officer levels, must be adjudged within a stipulated predefined time by law. Why can’t similar time-bound strictures be passed on cases being heard in courts?
Yes, while I am critical, I must admit that of late, to me personally, our Law Ministry has been doing relatively good and so has been our judiciary. The honorable Supreme Court of India has been displaying a proactive behavior with respect to burning social and political issues (of course, it indicates the failure of the other two pillars of the nation viz. legislature and the executive at large). The decisions taken by the Supreme Court since the last year or so are in the areas that largely come under the ambit of the executive and not the courts per se – almost akin to ethical hacking. The judiciary, for that matter, was designed to oversee incidents breaching the law and not to spearhead the law implementation operandi.
Actually, under our ex-Minister for Law and Justice, Mr. Veerappa Moily, the entire judicial machinery was being overhauled. By facilitating the release of 7.5 lakh petty offenders languishing in prison for years – their only crime being that they were poor – Moily at least did what no other Law Minister before him had done. His heart looked to be at the right place. His vision to take care of pending court cases was yet to be realised – and then he was shifted out of the Ministry. Salman Khurshid thereafter came and went. The situation remains quite a constant. I await a Law and Justice Minister or a Chief Justice of India similar to former Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan or current Comptroller and Auditor General of India Vinod Rai to come and take immediate actions on the lines proposed above and show that if one man wants, India can be a better place for its citizens and women on the streets. Else, the unfortunate truth will remain that in a fair trial of this rape case, the final verdict should indict the paralyzed courts of India along with the rapists themselves – for it is they who are facilitating the blatant and shameless rape of India and its women.
- 20 December 2012 |
- Arindam on Indian Economy