HOW TO MAKE COURTS MORE ACCESSIBLE?
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
There is an immediate need to restructure the entire judicial system to make it answerable to the needs of a democratic, progressive society. The Article has been authored by Ritika Sharma, a Law aspirant from Mumbai. Do give it a read.
One of the oldest legal systems in the world is the Indian judicial system,which still incorporates certain features from the British judicial system. Very few amendments have been made,which makes many of our current laws outdated and gender biased. Our judicial system faces certain deep – rooted problems, which need immediate reforms to make courts approachable for the society.
According to a report by the Quint, 4.2 million cases are pending in the High Courts. Along with the backlog of cases, there is a huge shortage of judges in the country as well. It was reported in 2018 that there 13 judges for one million people in India as compared to 100 per million in the UK. This makes the cases go on for years and years, resulting in the crisis of faith in the legal system. Currently the courts function a little over half a year, which in turn is a cause for the enormous number of pending cases. Courts must function all-round the year with bench rotations.
We were introduced to the system of fast track courts, which boasts of reducing the burden of cases. Setting up more fast track courts would certainly be helpful in the long run. However, the government does not have enough funds to set up such courts. In the government’s budget for 2016, only 0.2% of the total budget was given to the law ministry, one of the lowest proportions in the world.This barely gives any scope of modernization and upgradation of the courts in the country. Right from crumbling buildings to confusing court complex, the Indian courts are in wretched conditions. Last year the Delhi high court launched a unique helpline number 1888 for advance booking of wheelchairs, to make the court accessible to all. This was surely a welcoming step but it is only limited to the Delhi high court.
Another usual problem faced by the people is the delaying tactics used by lawyers. From illness, to lack of evidence all kinds of excuses are given to loot middle class people .This results in frequent adjournments and people don’t even know by when they would achieve justice. Till this period of trial, the under trials are supposed to be in jail, until the final judgement. In most cases the accused has already spent more years in the jail than his actual jail term. This leads to crowded jails .According to the 2014 prison statistics, the convicted make up 31% of the prison population, to tackle this Rajasthan’s open jail model could help ease the situation. Open camps and permanent parole must be adopted in order to improve the overcrowding in Indian prisons.
A Transparency International report released in 2007 showed that 77% of respondents in a survey believe the judiciary is corrupt. There is no interaction between the public and court. There is no such term known as “Judicial Accountability” in India. The need of the hour is the extension of the Right to Information Act to the judiciary as well. There must be open court systems and the judgements must be made audible. Like the politicians in our country, judges must also declare their assets.
The judicial system is in a dire need of a complete overhaul. More judges, more courts, more computers alone may not do much to improve the efficiency of courts or access to justice. This can only be achieved by re-engineering, re-imagining court processes. There is an immediate need to restructure the entire judicial system to make it answerable to the needs of a democratic, progressive society.Laws need rewriting and lawyers must be punished for unnecessarily delaying cases.