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Moribund Judiciary means Limping Democracy

Submitted by on February 26, 2009 – 2:03 am

A person becomes sick and his condition is worsening rapidly. His family members take him to the emergency department of the local civil hospital. If it takes 3 days (I am just throwing up a number) for the emergency department to assess him and take next step, will you call it an effective Emergency Services? No, rather this will be a blot on the very term ‘Emergency’. If it takes courts years to decide a case of murder, will you call it a functional judiciary? Not at all!

The very concept of a democracy is existent on basic premise: where there is injustice, there shall be a redressal system. Hence, judiciary is sine-qua-non for a meaningful democracy. A sleepy and exhausted judicial system will result in a limping democracy. And that is precisely what is happening in India! The slow and over-burdened judicial system has failed to take adequate care of the grievances of the citizens. If a murder trial takes years to decide, it is tantamount to pushing the aggrieved party to immense physical and mental torture, leave alone punishing the victim to the desired extent.

Think about it! Where does lie the problem? Before I go into these issues, let me throw up a few common scenarios:

  1. Why do we have paucity of judges? When a district has number of hospitals (main civil hospitals to Community hospitals to Primary Health Centers) and hundreds of doctors to cater to the health needs of its population, can a single-digit number of judges tackle the legal health of the district?

    Why judges are such a scarcity? Rather why such a crisis is produced? Why judges are made such a precious commodity? Are they very costly to the system? No, they are like other gazetted officers, essentially affordable. It deifies any logicthat our judicial system is so severely understaffed.

    I remember a car accident involving my family member took 3 full years to be decided in a Haryana court. This is simply ridiculous. Looking at the pace of the case, I got a feeling that the whole judicial system had adopted a sadistic attitude, where both parties suffer endlessly. Believe me, it is totally un-necessary. We as a state and country can afford to make our judicial system more efficient.

  2. There is a perception that the judiciary has not been aloof from the virus of corruption. It raises more doubts when it is left to the State government to select judges for the district and lower courts.

    The solutions:

    1. Obviously, we need more courts and more judges to expedite the cases. A paralyzed judiciary is a great deterrent to the functional democracy.
    2. The judges should be selected by a centralized judicial commission and out- of – state postings should be a norm even at the lower courts.
    3. The judiciary should be free from political interference.

      A healthy judicial system will help our democracy to be more mature and transparent.

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