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UNIT1

ExistingJusticeDeliverySystemInIndia
HistoricalOverview:
JudicialReformsisatheme,whichissomuchoftalkedaboutbuttoolittlehasbeendone.

HISTORY:
Indian Judicial System has a long history right from the preBritish days. In the 18th century a uniform
patternofjudiciaryemergedandduringtheBritishregimeHighCourtswereestablishedinpresidency
towns.Thereafter,in1937,theFederalCourtwasestablishedtoheartheappealsfromtheHighCourts.
BecauseofcomplexitiesofpersonallawsofMuslimsandHindusandvariouscustoms&practices,there
were initial difficulties in administration of justice. After independence, the government focused on to
have a systematic judicial system throughout the country and many new subordinate courts were
establishedinvariouspartsofthecountry.
Todaythereisanetworkofover14thousandcourtsalloverIndiaandthesecourtsaredealingwith4
crores of cases. Out of 14 thousand judges, the working strength would be about 12,500 judges and
nearly4thousandcasesarebeinghandledperJudge.Thisistoohighascomparedtotheaverageload
perJudgeinothercountries.

IndianJudicialSystem

TheSupremeCourtisthe apexcourtinthecountry.TheSupremeCourtsexclusiveoriginaljurisdiction
extendstoalldisputesbetweentheUnionandoneormorestatesorbetweentwoormorestates.
The Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to enforce fundamental
Rights.
TheSupremeCourtconsistsofachiefjusticeand25otherjustices,allappointedbythePresidentonthe
adviceofthePrimeMinister.
The High Court stands at the head of
the state's judicial administration.
There are 21 High Courts in the
country.

The Chief Justice of a High Court is


appointedbythePresidentinconsultationwiththeChiefJusticeofIndiaandtheGovernorofthestate.

Each state is divided into judicial districts presided over by a district and sessions judge, who is the
highestjuridicalauthorityinadistrict.
Below him, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known in different states as munsifs, subjudges, civil
judgesandthelike.

Similarly, criminal judiciary comprises Chief Judicial Magistrate and Judicial Magistrates of first and
secondclass.

Also, there are voluntary agencies, Lok Adalats for resolution of disputes through conciliatory method.
Theconstitutionthroughitsarticlesrelatingtothejudicialsystemprovidesawaytoquestionthelawsof
thegovernment,ifthecommonmanfindsthelawsasunsuitableforanycommunityinIndia.

EffectivenessoftheLegalandtheJudicialSystems
Former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, had lamented that the inability of Indias
judicialsystemtodeliverspeedyjusticehaditselfbecomethesourceofmuchinjustice.Judicial
action must be fast and effective. Rules for judicial proceedings should make the disposal of
cases timebound. Frequent adjournments should not be permitted and the performance of
judicial officers should be judged on the basis of the perspicacity of their judgments and
efficiency in their working. Government investigative agencies should be taken to task for
dilatory procedures and as far as possible, computerization of cases and records and other
modern management techniques should be introduced in the judicial system. Besides,
continuousandvigorousinspectionshouldbeundertakenofHighCourtsbytheSupremeCourt
and of the lower courts by the High Courts. A concurrent administrative audit of judicial
institutionscanhelpinenhancingtheireffectiveness.
Criminaljusticesystemcanbeconsideredeffectiveredressalmechanismonlyifcriminalcaseare
disposedofquickly.Presently,intheIndiancourts,includingthespecialcourtsforhearinganti
corruptioncases,thequantumofpendencyishigh.Itmightbearationalsteptointroduceshift
systeminthecourts.Inthesecondshift,retiredjudgesandjudicialofficerswhosereputationis
high,maybeappointedonacontractualbasis.Theperformanceofspecialcourtsthathavebeen
constituted under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 should also be
reviewed with a view to make these institutions more efficient and effective. These could be

maderealfasttrackcourts.Analternativejudicialsystemintheformofadministrativetribunals
couldalsobestrengthened.

MENACESInJUDICIARYANDLEGALSYSTEMWITHTHEIRSOLUTIONS
First, there is the natural conclusion that the number of judges and courts needs to be
increased. At a Chief Justices conference in 2004, a committee was constituted to get a fix on the
recommended judge/case ratio and a figure of 500 to 600 was suggested for district and subordinate
courts. Working with the pendency figures, this translates into an additional 35,000 courts or so,
dependingonhowonederivesthenumber.Thetotalnumberofcourtsrightnowis12,148.Alternatively,
onecanworkwiththejudge/populationratio.Inits120threport(1987),theLawCommissionstatedthat
thenumberofjudgespermillionpopulationshouldincreasefrom10.5to50.Thatfigureof10.5isoften
quoted, but is somewhat suspect. On 31 December 2007, the sanctioned strength in district and
subordinate courts was 15,917. Because of a large number of vacancies (with large numbers in Uttar
Pradesh, Andhra, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Gujarat, Karnataka,
MadhyaPradesh,BiharandUttarakhand),theworkingstrengthwasonly12,549.However,evenifone
workswiththesanctionedstrength,thejudge/millionpopulationratioisashadelowerthanseven,not
10.5.Ifthe50targetisaccepted,thisworksouttoanadditional98,000judges.

Second,thisraisestheissueoffinancialautonomyforthejudiciary.Thepointaboutplanningand
budgetaryexercisesbeingundertakenwithoutconsultingthejudiciaryisavalidone,thoughsince1993,
theexpenditureonjudicialadministrationhasbecomeaPlansubject.Since1993,therehasalsobeena
centrallysponsoredschemeforimprovementofinfrastructure.Fiftypercentoftheexpenditureismet
by the centre and there has to be a 50 percent matching grant from states. These funds are made
available by the Planning Commission. It is a separate matter that many state governments have been
reluctanttoprovidethematchinggrants.TheNationalCommissionsetuptoreviewtheConstitutionalso
flagged paucity of funds, both through the Planning Commission and the Finance Commission, and
recommended planning and budgetary exercises through a national and statelevel Judicial Councils.
However,acceptingthatthereisafinancialproblemisonething.Arguingthatthereshouldbecomplete
financialautonomyisanother.Withoutfirmevidencethatthejudiciaryhassoughttoreducependency,
the argument for financial autonomy will have few takers. For instance, the judicial appointment and
promotionprocessisdefactointhehandsofthejudiciary.Whatthenexplainsthehighvacancyrates?
Alternatively,onecanquibbleaboutthepreciseindicatorusedtomeasurejudicialproductivity,butwhy
isthejudiciaryreluctanttoacceptdisposaltargets?

Third, there are procedural improvements required. While the Code of Civil Procedure was
amendedin2001and2002,thereisstillscopeforimprovingordersissuedunderthecodeforissueslike
writtenstatements,costs,examinationofparties,framingofissues,evidenceonaffidavitsandexparte
injunctions. Since twothirds of the backlog consists of criminal cases, amendments to the Code of
CriminalProcedureandtheIndianEvidenceActarelongoverdue.Consequently,thereareproblemswith
lackofpretrialhearings,serviceofsummons,delaysinsupplyingcopiestotheaccused,exemptingthe
accusedfrompersonalappearances,delaysinframingcharges,repeatedadjournments,nonavailability
ofwitnessesandcompounding,nottospeakoflackofpublicprosecutorsandproblemswiththepolice.
Butitisnecessarytomentionthattheaverageconvictionrateisnt6percent,asiscommonlybelievedto
bethecase.

Fourth, while the three points made above are generic, there is a case for focusing on certain
typesofcases.Forinstance,thegovernmentlitigationpolicyforcivilcasescrowdsoutcitizensfromusing
thecourtsystem,thoughSection80oftheCodeofCivilProcedureallowsforoutofcourtsettlements.
That apart, specific focus on the Negotiable Instruments Act, Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal cases,

pettycases,oldcasesandcasesrelatedtoexciseispossible.

Fifth, generic improvements require large sums of money. Experiments like Lok Adalats, fast
track courts, Family Courts, mobile courts, Nyaya Panchayats, Gram Nyayalayas, Peoples Courts and
WomensCourtscanaccordinglybeperceivedasdrivenbythemotiveofgettingabiggerbangforthe
buck. This has been described as load shedding and a hollowing out of the Indian State. That may
amount to stating it a bit too strongly. However, there is no getting away from the fundamental
constraintswiththejusticedeliverysystem,withthesesolutionsbeingnomorethanaddonsandquick
fixes.

TheHighCourtproblemisinAllahabad(criminalandcivil),Madras(criminalandcivil),Bombay
(civil), Calcutta (civil), Patna (criminal), Punjab & Haryana (civil), Rajasthan (criminal and civil), Delhi
(criminal and civil), Jharkhand (criminal), Madhya Pradesh (criminal) and Orissa (civil). The Lower Court
problem is in Tamil Nadu (civil and criminal), Uttar Pradesh (civil and criminal), Rajasthan (civil and
criminal),Punjab(civil),Haryana(civil),Orissa(criminal),WestBengal(criminal),Kerala(civil),Bihar(civil
andcriminal),Gujarat(civil),Delhi(criminal)andMaharashtra(criminal).TorecapitulatefromSection3,
the Lok Adalat success has been in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The Fast Track Courts
success has been in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. The Family
CourtsuccesshasbeenmostevidentinKerala,MaharashtraandUttarPradesh.Thisraisesaverysimple
point.WithorwithoutFinanceCommissionfunds,reformsrequireabuyinfromstates.Clearly,different
Stateshavedifferentpriorities.Whyshouldtherebeacentralschemethatisuniformandstandardforall
states? Why should States not be asked to determine what they would like to focus on? For instance,
BiharmightwanttobuildontheLokAdalatsuccess,whileKeralamightwanttobuildontheFamilyCourt
success.

CurrentScenario,PathandthePacerequiredforJudicialReforms:
Wewantlongtermreformsonvariousaspects.
Weshouldhave
(i)

legislativereformtoremovethebottlenecksthatareadverselyaffectingtheadjudication;

(ii)

StrengtheningoftheBar;

(iii)

Strengtheningoflegaleducation;

(iv)

Legislativereformtostrengthenthepowersofjudgestocontroljudicialprocessestoensure
justandefficientoutcomesinlinewithinternationalreformsinthisdirection

(v)

Satisfactoryframeworkforjudicialaccountability.

Ifthedecisionmakingauthoritiestakefirm,independentandimpartialdecisions,thecitizenswouldnot
normallybedriventolitigations.Lackofproperandgoodgovernancelargelycontributestothenumber
ofcasesinsubordinatecourts.

The poorr budgetary support to the


t
judiciary has been alluded
a
to ass one of thee reasons fo
or non
implemen
ntation of jud
dicial reformss. Rs.700 crore allocated to the judiciary during th
he 10th Plan (2002
2007)con
nstituted0.07
78percentoffthetotalplaanoutlayofR
Rs.8,93,183ccrore.DuringgtheNinthPllanthe
allocation
nwasevenle
ess,only0.07
71percent.Itthasbeenob
bservedthat suchmeagerrallocationsaaretoo
inadequattetomeetth
herequiremeentsofthejud
diciary.ItisssaidthatIndiiaspendsjustt0.2percenttofthe
grossnatiionalproducttonjudiciary.AccordingtothefirstNaationalJudiciaalPayCommiission,allstattesbut
onehavebeen providing less than
n 1% of theiir respective budgets forr subordinate
e judiciary which
w
is
afflictedw
withhugepen
ndency.
Othermajorfactorsincludeneglectinimprovingjudicialinfrrastructureovverthepastd
decades,inorrdinate
delays in filling up vaccancies of jud
dges and verry low populationtojudgge ratio that require imm
mediate
attentiontoimprovetheperforman
nceofjudiciary.
The120th
hLawCommissionReportthadpointed
doutthatInd
diaspopulattiontojudgeratioisone ofthe
lowestintheworldw
withonly 10 judgesforevverymillion ofitspopulaationascomp
paredtoabo
out150
judges fo
or the same number in the United States and Britain. Acco
ording to theAll India Judges
J
Associatio
on,theSupre
emeCourthaaddirectedth
hegovernmen
nttoincreaseethejudgesttrengthto50judges
per10lakkhpopulation
nby2007inaphasedman
nner,whichhaasmotbeenffulfilledsofar.
Evenforffillingupofvaacanciesofapprovedstrengthofjudgeesmuchneed
dstobedonee.Itisobserveedthat
25 percent of the judge positions remain vacant due to
proceduraaldelays.Theesanctioned strengthofjudgesofthe
High Courts was 886 and working strength waas 608 as on
6thJanuarry 2009 leavving 278 vaacancies. Sim
milarly, with
11,767working strenggth ofSubord
dinate Judgesstherewere
2710vacaanciesonMarch1,2007.
Fordecad
desjudicialsyystemhasbe
eencryingforreformsas
the cheaap and spee
edy justice has
h been byy and large
elusive.TThere is a huge pendencyy of over 2.5 crore cases despite meassures to redu
uce it. Expertts have
expressed
dfearsthattherehasbeeenalossofpublicconfidenceinthejudiciary,andaanincreasinggresort
tolawlesssnessandvio
olentcrimeto
osettledisputes.Theyfee
elthatpublic confidencein
nthejudiciarrymust
berestore
edimmediateely,inordertoarrestandreversethisn
negativetrend.
Analysisd
donefromth
herawdataavailablefro
omtheSuprem
meCourtpub
blishedliterature(Year20
00809)
revea
als

that

the

stren
ngth of the judges
at Su
upreme Cou
urt and
other subsidiariees does
notccommensurattewith

therequirrementofinsstitutionalca
ases.Overtheeperiodoftim
methetrendrevealsthatthevacancieeshave
almost reemained stagnated with
h the huge in
increase in the
t number of cases in the court, th
hereby
preventin
ngearlydispo
osaloftheinsstitutionalca
ases.
During our analyssis we
have gone
g
througgh the
yearly judicial
j
repo
orts of
Supreme
e Court and
d tried
analyze

data

the

graphicaally for the laast five


quarterss and identifiied the
trends of the pending
p
cases,

vacancies

at

Supreme Court.Ouranalysisfrom thegraphab


boveclearlyshowsthewid
deninggapofthependinggcases
over the period of tim
me and the vacancies at all levels in judiciary sysstem. In our research fro
om the
SupremeCourtwebsite,thesestarkkpointshavebeenhighlighted.
Thegraph
hhighlightsth
heworkingsttrengthandtthesanctionsstrengthofju
udgesintheSSupremeCou
urt.The
interesting point is th
hat the vacaancies have remained
r
staagnated overr the period of time while the
institution
nalcasesconttinuedtorise
eresultinginoverallpendeency.

The grraphs preparred for


the Hiigh Court an
nd the
Districtt&theSuborrdinate
courts also highlig
ght the
similar
r trends in
n the
vacancciesandthen
number
ofcaseesintheseco
ourtsas
identifiied
SupremeC
Court.

for

the

The treend in the lower


courts is also similar to
upper level courts which
highligh
hts it as a prroblem
existingg in the Indian
Judicial System. Theere has
beenab
bsolutelynoo
orvery
slow effforts taken to fill
the judges vacancies or to
reducethenumberofcasesexistinggintheJudicialSystem.

wyers and judges, various legal


Over the years severral benches of the Supreeme Court, eminent law
ons/ organizaations and NGOs have identified prob
blems in thee Judicial System and called for
associatio
addressing them speeedily. Yet, th
he effective iimplementation of manyy such recom
mmendations is still

pending.AccordingtooneoftheParliamentaryStandingCommitteeonHomeAffairs(2001)almost50%
ofthereportsoftheLawCommissionsawaitedimplementation.
However,therehavebeenmeasuresinrecentyearstoimprovefunctioningofcourts.Forapplicationof
informationandcommunicationtechnology(ICT)tothejusticedeliverysystemforbettermanagement,
aSchemeforcomputerizingallthedistrictandsubordinatecourtsacrossthecountryandforupgrading
the ICT infrastructure of Supreme Court and High Courts was approved by the central government in
February 2007 to be completed in two years at cost of Rs.442. Under the project 13,365 laptops have
been provided to Judicial Officers, laser printers to about 12,600 judicial officers and eleven thousand
judicialofficersand44thousandcourtstaffhavebeengiventrainingintheuseofICTtoolssofar.489
districtcourtand896talukacourtcomplexeshavebeenprovidedwithbroadbandInternetconnectivity.
Meanwhile, the disposal of cases can be increased by greater use of the existing infrastructure with
courtshavingmorethanoneshift.Gujaratisoneofthestateswhereeveningcourtsarefunctioningwith
appreciableresults.
Fast Track Courts(FTC) have been recommended by 11th Finance Commission. The same have been
recommended in the situation in respect of land acquisition cases. The amount awarded by the land
acquisition officer has never been reasonable or proper. The parties are driven to litigation in large
number of cases. At the district level, if there is a Districtwise High Power Committee to fix the
compensationatreasonablygoodamount,mostoftheclaimantsmayacceptitandonlyveryfewwould
resorttofilelandacquisitioncasesforenhancement.
Asregardscriminalcases,thereareothercontributoryfactorswhichcauselargependencyofcases.In
someofthecases,theinvestigationistardyandinefficientandtakeslongtimetofilethefinalreport.We
do not have enough scientific laboratories and many a time the report of the forensic laboratory is
delayedinordinately.Ineptpolicingandweakprosecutionarehugelyresponsibleforslowingdownand
protractingthecriminaltrialinmanycourts.

OurOpinion/ProposalforReformsRequired:
ThejudicialsysteminIndiafacestwodiverseproblems

Slowdisposalofcasesleadingtodelaysaswellasaccumulationofbacklog

Verylowrateofprosecutionincriminalcases.

Thechallengeofjudicialreformsistoensurethatquickjusticedoesnotbecomeaquicksandofbarbaric
practices,whileatthesametimeexpeditingthejudicialprocessaswellasensuringthatthepercentage
ofguiltyescapingpunishmentisreducedconsiderably.
Theissuessuggestedbelowarenotexhaustivebutitishopedthatanationalconsensusontheseissues
followedbyappropriateactionswillgoalongwayinensuringthatthejudiciaryandtherebydemocracy

in India gets strengthened. After doing the research and discussion among the group we propose the
followingactions:
A.SimplificationofRulesandProcedures
MostRulesandProceduresinIndiahavetheirrootsinacolonialbackgroundwhenrules
were made by the "superior" race for the "natives". The key design consideration is, generally,
the convenience of the bureaucratic machinery rather than the common man. It is essential to
bringaboutaparadigmchangeinthismindsetandcarryoutareengineeringofthecomplete
setofrulesandprocedures.

B.JudgePopulationRatio
The number of judges per 100,000 people in India is very low as compared to most
developed countries and also in comparison to some developing countries. It needs to be
discussed whether there should be a statutory provision prescribing a minimum ratio or a
consensusmaybeevolvedtoworktowardsrealizabletimeboundtargetsinthisregard.Itmay
alsobeexaminedifsomesystemofHonoraryJudgeswhoarenotfulltimejudgescanbeworked
outforsomeclassofcases.
C.TimeboundFillingofVacantPostsinJudiciary
Judicial appointments and promotions need to be streamlined to ensure that posts do
not remain vacant for any length of time. Appropriate institutional structure may need to be
createdthatwillestimatethepostslikelytofallvacantinfutureandtakethenecessarystepsin
anticipation. The role of High Courts, Supreme Court and Administration may need to be
redefinedtomaketheprocesstransparent,fair,smoothandfast.
D.Appointment,PromotionandTransferofJudges
Ajudiciaryisjustaboutasgoodasthepeoplewhomanit.Ensuringhighqualityofjudicial
officers and judges is critical for a high quality judicial system. Getting the best talent and
maintaininghighlevelofmotivationispossibleifandonlyifthesystemisfairandtransparentin
allmattersthatconcernthepersonwhoisapartofit.Appointment,promotionandtransferare,
hence,criticaltobuildahighqualityjudicialsystem.Workingoutafairandtransparentsystemin
allsuchmattersmust,therefore,receivehighpriority.
E.JudicialAccountability
Itisironicthatajudgecanorderforamantobehangedortobeimprisonedforthebest
partofhislifeandafewyearslatersomehighercourtcansetasidetheorderofthelowercourt,
without any system of punishing the lower court judge for a bad order. Every other pillar of
democratic governance is subject to some system of ensuring accountability and checks and

balances.Judiciaryhasneitherasystemofrewardsnorasystemofpunishments.Itisnecessary
to discuss whether attempts to improve the quality of judicial system should include some
mechanismofrewardsandpunishmentsforjudicialofficersandjudgesmonitoredandoperated
eitherbyaninternalinstitutionorbyanexternalbody.
F.TransparencyofCourtProceedings
Indiancourtsdonotallowelectronicmediapresenceduringcourtproceedings,whilein
many other countries trials are extensively covered by media leading to active interest of the
common man in the judicial proceedings. It is necessary to discuss whether the judiciary and
justicewillgainbymoretransparency.
G.FasterandSpeedyCasesResolutions
Therateofresolvingthecasesneedtoimprovedatmuchfasterrate.Wefeelthateach
courttoensurethatnomorethan5%ofthecasesinthatcourtshouldbemorethan5yearsold
(5x5rule)withinthenextthreeyears;andin5yearstoensurethatnomorethan1%ofthecases
shouldbemorethan1yearsold(1x1rule).
H.MoreFocusontheuseofITforfasterdisposalofcasesandimprovements
Indian courts do not allow electronic media presence during court proceedings, while in many other
countries trials are extensively covered by media leading to active interest of the common man in the
judicial proceedings. It is necessary to discuss whether the judiciary and justice will gain by more
transparency. Bottlenecks causing delays in civil and criminal process to be monitored through a
computerizedsystem and special attentiontobe provided through a specialcell at theHigh Courtand
District level to resolve issues in coordination with Executive Agencies: (a) Service of process; (b)
Adjournments;(c)InterlocutoryOrders;and(d)Appearanceofwitnessesandaccused.