Everybody agrees that justice delayed is justice denied. And yet, trials continue for several generations in our country. The condition is such that people are suffering from what can be called ‘ancestral trials’. An individual passes away, but the trials seem to continue. That is why innocent people sometimes spend their life behind bars. It has happened many a time that after spending the whole life behind bars or even after a person’s death, the verdict comes that the person was innocent. In that case, it is worthless to say who is responsible for the injustice that has happened to them. Nobody in this world can give back the time wasted behind the bars. The family of those people who get involved in trials also face a lot of difficulties in their life. They keep circling around the courts and the lawyers. During each circle, the lawyer earns a huge amount of money and the people lose a huge amount of money. In this era of unemployment and inflation, it is very difficult to earn money and often it is also difficult to manage two full meals a day. Filling the deposit boxes of the lawyer with this limited income is also not less than any kind of punishment.
In the courts country-wide, more than 3 crores cases are pending presently. A point of even greater concern is that out of those 3 crores cases, 60 per cent cases are related to the Government. In several cases the agonist and the antagonist states along with the Central Government are also present. The maximum cases are related to the Income Tax Department, Home Department, Finance Department, Industry Department, Mining-Petroleum Department, Forest Department, Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), Education Department, Village Councils, Transport and Revenue Department plus 19 other departments. The maximum cases that are against the Government are related to tax. S.S. Palanimanickam, Union Minister of State, Finance said in the Lok Sabha that 5860 cases related to direct tax worth Rs. 2707 crores are pending in the Supreme Court whereas 29650 cases related to direct tax worth Rs. 36,340 crores are still pending in the High Courts. He also said that 2855 cases related to indirect tax worth Rs. 8130 crores are pending in the Supreme Court whereas 14,626 cases related to indirect tax worth Rs. 11,459 crores are still pending in different High Courts of the country. Palanimanickam also said due to some ‘irremediable’ processes of the Government the outstanding taxes are not been collected. The recovery of the outstanding taxes is also not possible due to the suspension of application by the Appeal officials and also due to suspension of the cases by the courts.
The Government has now taken some major steps for rapid completion of court cases. According to this the Government has approved the National Justice Delivery and the Legal Reform Mission. In the financial year 2011-12, for infrastructure development, the Central government has alloted Rs. 500 crores _ five times more than the previous allotment.
Out of the total pending cases, 74 per cent cases fall within the last five years. Salman Khurshid, Law and Justice Minister, said in the Rajya Sabha that till 30 September 2010, 57,179 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, whereas 42,17,903 cases were pending in the High Courts and 2,69,86,307 cases in the lower courts.
Other than the impotency of the Judicial System, the reason behind the huge number of pending cases in the courts is also a glaring shortage of Judges. In proportion to the country’s population, the number of judges is less. There are 135 judges per 10 lakhs in America. Likewise in Canada it is 75, In Australia it is 57 and in Britain it is 50 whereas in India there are only 13 judges per 10 lakhs population. Despite this, the judge’s post in different courts are still empty. Last year, in about 21 High Courts of country-wide, 279 posts were empty, although 895 recommended posts are present in those High Courts. There are 160 posts for judges in the Allahabad High Court, but only 69 judges are present — that means 91 posts are still empty. In the High Courts of Haryana and Punjab there should be 68 judges in total, but only 20 judges are present and 48 posts are vacant. In Kolkata High Court, only 17 judges are present, whereas there should 58 judges in total. There 41 posts still vacant.
There are only 13 judges in the High Court of Rajasthan, but there should be 40 judges which means 27 posts are vacant. Gujarat High Court also has only 22 judges, whereas there should be 42 judges, 20 posts are vacant and in Sikkim High Courts only one judge is present, whereas there should be 3 in total. District and Subordinate courts are also more or less in the same situation. In total, 18,008 posts are recommended in those courts, whereas 3,634 posts are still vacant. In Gujarat, there are 1679 posts for judges, but only 863 judges are present and 816 posts are empty. Only 681 judges are present in Bihar, whereas the requirement is 1666 judges. 1897 judges are working in Uttar Pradesh, whereas 207 posts are still vacant. The requirement of judges in West Bengal is around 146. Around 194 posts are still vacant in Maharashtra. The other states of the country are more or less in the same situation. As a consequence, delays in court cases inevitable. The Prime Minster of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Chief Justice of India, Mr. Sarosh Homi Kapadia and Law and Justice Minister, Mr. Salman Khurshid have agreed that in India cases in the courts run for a longer period of time and decisions also come very late.
Cabinet Minister and famous Advocate Kapil Sibal said that the biggest obstacles for appointing new Judges are the State Governments. They always cry over the deficiency of money. Justice is on the last pedal in their priority list.
The Government has now taken some major steps for rapid completion of court cases. According to this the Government has approved the National Justice Delivery and the Legal Reform Mission. In the financial year 2011-12, for infrastructure development, the Central government has alloted Rs. 500 crores _ five times more than the previous allotment. For the States, it has also been increased from 50:50 to 75:25 and for the Northern states it is kept as 90:10. Other than this, for the period in between 2010 to 2015, the Government has approved the recommendation of Rs. 5000 crores mentioned in the 13th Five Year Plan for the development of a viable justice pattern in the country. In 2010-11, the State Governments have already been granted Rs. 1000 crores each. With the help of these grants, the State Governments can build Morning/Evening/Special Magistrate courts in order to reduce the number of pending cases in their respective states. They can appoint court stewards; build Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centers, provide training for the consultants and arrange more people for the courts. Grants are also been allotted for the training of Justice Officials, for making the State Justice academies more powerful, for the training of the public prosecutors and for the maintenance of the heritage courts. To make all the judicial processes computerised, the Government has alloted Rs. 935 crores for every district and Subordinate courts of the country. This process has been under way since 1997. Till 31 March 2012, around 12,000 courts are to be computerised and till 31 March 2014, 14.249 courts are to be computerised. State case policy is also being prepared with the aim of making the Government efficient and responsible. If the cases in which the Government is involved are reduced then the courts will get more time to resolve the other pending cases.
To provide justice to the people at ground level, village courts are to be constructed under the Village Court Act-2008. The Central Government is also providing expenses for the construction of village courts. For the first 3 years the amount for the help allotted is to be Rs. 3.20 lakhs per village court per year.
Justice After Five Decades
In a five decades old case, on August 2007, the Supreme Court gave a decision in favour of a farmer named Rajendra who died a few years ago. This land dispute case reached the court in 1957. In 1964, the Allahabad High Court stipulated the land was in Rajendra Singh’s name. The Supreme Court also deemed this decision to be correct. The persons, who occupied the land namely Prem Mai and Sudha Mai, also didn’t challenge this decision. In that case Rajendra Singh should have got the land, but in 1991 the High Court again interfered in this case and dissolved the final decision. In 2001, Rajendra Singh knocked at the door of the Supreme Court and in August 2007, Rajendra Singh got the decision in his favour. But Rajendra Singh had passed away a few years before the decision was given. In this issue the Court sorrowfully said that if the trust of the common people is to be reinstated in the Judicial system, then the cases should be completed expeditiously.