Have the Courts Been Justified in Every Decision They Make?
By Aaratrika Bal
“Delay in justice is injustice”
-Walter Savage Landor
Our nation has many courts at different levels, from the subordinate or lower courts to the Supreme Court which is at the apex. This system of hierarchy of courts had been formed to ease the pressure of deciding many cases on one court. But still, statistics say that there are many cases which are pending in the Indian courts and in many cases, justice was not provided. There are many cases which have seen extended trials and have been denied justice by our courts. Some such cases are Uphaar Cinema fire case, the Bhopal gas tragedy case. There are some major factors behind this. One of the main reasons is the archaic laws which need to be worked upon.
The decade when the laws were made was very different from the present conditions. People have developed different mindsets; thus, the laws need to be changed in order to render justice and fair decision. We have seen injustice in cases of child abuse like Kathua rape and murder case. The judicial hearing kept on getting shifted to one place from another. The incident happened in Pathankot, Punjab but the hearing got shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir. In India, injustice is served in many cases and justice is delayed. Thus, the courts have not always made decisions that were justified or that rendered justice. In 2011, around 32 million cases had been pending in the high courts. According to my belief, many measures can be taken in order to provide justice and at a faster rate. Relevancy of archaic and ancient laws and precedents should be checked before applying to modern cases, audio and video recording should be made compulsory in the trials.
Right to speedy justice must be considered to be a fundamental right that every citizen can exercise. Often, cases are filed in courts which are irrelevant. Such cases should get a different forum or platform to be heard and decided. Thus, it will also reduce the pressure on courts and will avoid delay in justice. There is another issue. There are often no proper resources to collect evidence and witnesses. Thus, justice gets delayed and often denied. We often can’t go beyond our boundaries and think; thus, we are not able to recreate and renew the old and existing laws. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Even when there is a little bit of injustice in one case, the whole legal system gets affected. Survey shows India has most environment conflict cases and justice had been denied or delayed. Delaying of justice is equivalent to denying justice. There is also a lack of transparency in the functioning of the courts. Hon’ble Justice Lokur came up with the conclusion that there are crores and crores of cases pending in India till date and that it will take more than 300 years to solve each one of them in a justified manner, also there is a condition to it. The condition is that no additional case can be taken up in the meantime. This shows the amount of pressure that our judges go through and also shows the inefficiency of the Indian courts.
There is poor infrastructure in the lower courts and often there is excessive cross-examination. Many provisions and procedures of the Criminal Procedure Code are not followed. Often, there is the pressure of the high-class society on the judges, and their decision becomes biased, and thus, hampering justice. To render justice at a larger and faster pace, we can also try to use other techniques to decide upon cases such as alternating dispute resolution, that involves mediation, arbitration, negotiation, etc. these techniques are cheaper and more efficient too.
Lok Adalat's should be set up and an e- committee should also be organized that will filter the cases and will decide if they can be heard in the courts, thus saving the valuable time of our courts. Legal aid systems should be strengthened. In a well-known case of Hoosainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, state of Bihar, it was held by the court that right to fair and fast trial is the right of an individual under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Some of the other such cases are State of Maharashtra v. Champalal Punjaji Shah, Ranjan Dwivedi v. CBI.
It has become a high time that we do something about it. The courts were established in order to render justice to the citizens of the nation. If this main resolution cannot be fulfilled then the whole purpose of establishing courts goes into vain. Technology can also be used to deliver justice. It is an easier way too and more efficient. It doesn’t only help to dispose of pending cases but also let the people get access to justice. Filing a first information report, a civil case, a writ petition, etc. everything has been digitalized and can be done using digital technology. Recently, our Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a new website based on the apex court of India (Supreme Court) that features the “Integrated Case Management Information System” (ICMIS).
In this whole article, I have discussed the loopholes of the Indian courts that act as hindrances in delivering justice to people and also, I have mentioned about different techniques and measures that can be used to overcome those issues to offer a fair and justified trial. A better infrastructure with some reforms will help the courts deliver justice in an easier and faster pace.