- GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of Judiciary
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Unclogging the Courts
Context: Recently, a senior judge of the Supreme Court of India, while hearing a case, stated that frivolous cases have been making the Court dysfunctional.
- Frivolous cases were adding to the burden of the Supreme Court and collaterally harming other litigants by delaying hearing of their cases.
- Frivolous cases also lead to wastage of time of judges and court system bringing down the efficiency of justice delivery system.
The problem of frivolous cases, although identified, continues because of following reasons:
- Government as a major litigant
- The Ministry of Law and Justice in the Action Plan to Reduce Government Litigation (2017) stated that approximately 46 per cent pending cases before the courts pertain to the government.
- Supreme Court has imposed fines on governments and litigants for filing frivolous litigations. However, this has not discouraged them from indulging in such litigations.
- Ignoring National Litigation Policy 2010
- One of the provision of the policy which states that “litigation will not be resorted to for the sake of litigating”, is not working.
- The policy has not deterred the government authorities from filing frivolous cases
- Imposition of costs on government authorities for frivolous cases is being ultimately paid from the public exchequer, leading to inefficient usage of public funds.
- Non-appointment of judges
- Many high courts have 40 to 50 per cent vacancies at times.
- According to a government statement in the Lok Sabha, there were 5,135 vacancies in district and subordinate courts as on June 30, 2018.
- Special courts are created for specific disputes giving the impression of expedited hearing and disposal. But judges for these courts have to be provided by the high courts from the existing common pool of judges.
- Inadequate judge strength makes frivolous cases linger for longer period of time because existing strength cannot dispose them off in short period amidst huge burden of cases.
4. Other issues that lead to clogging of the system include the refusal to increase the number of sanctioned posts, lack of infrastructure in the district courts, absence of training of judges, stalling of police reforms etc
- The responsibility of unclogging the judiciary is with the central and state governments since they are the biggest litigants in the courts.
- Governments should approach the courts only if necessary, and not just to pass the buck.
- Vacancy in Judiciary should be addressed immediately by the government.
- Government has to follow National Litigation Policy, 2010 in letter & spirit.
Connecting the dots: