Sep 20: Indianisation of Judiciary– https://youtu.be/umbLO0QH54Q
- GS-2: Judiciary
Indianisation of Judiciary
Context: India has the oldest judiciary system in the world. Our legal and judicial history dates back to 5000 years. In fact no other judicial system has a more ancient and acclaimed pedigree like Bharat-Varsh. Chief Justice of India N V Ramana has called the Indianisation of the country’s legal system the need of the hour. According to him it is crucial to make the justice delivery system more accessible and effective.
What does he mean by Indianisation of the country’s legal system?
Courts need to be litigant-centric while simplification of justice delivery should be the pressing concern. Very often our justice delivery poses many barriers for the common people. The working and the style of courts do not sit well with the complexities of India. Our systems, practice, rules being colonial in origin, it may not be best suited to the needs of the Indian population.
The need of the hour is the ‘Indianisation’ of our legal system to make it more ‘litigant-centric’.
- Indianisation means the localization of the justice delivery system – the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society.
- Being litigant-centric means – as the common man is the ultimate beneficiary, and the focal point of any justice delivery system is “the litigant — the justice seeker”.
Earlier recommendations include that of –
- Malimath Committee Report (2000) on reforms in the Criminal Justice System of India (CJS): The Committee suggested that a Schedule to the Code be brought out in all regional languages so that the accused knows his/her rights, as well as how to enforce them and whom to approach when there is a denial of those rights.
- Law Commission, 1958: The All India Judicial Services (AIJS) was first proposed by the 14th report of the Law Commission in 1958.
The common man should not be scared of courts
- Colonial system of judiciary established more or less from the master-servant point of view and not from the public’s point of view.
- Language is an issue: Parties from a rural place fighting a family dispute are usually made to feel out of place in the Court. They do not understand the arguments or pleadings which are mostly in English, a language alien to them.
- Lengthy Days: These days judgments have become lengthy, which further complicates the position of litigants. As of today, there are more than 4.5 crore cases pending in the judiciary.
- More money: For the parties to understand the implications of a judgment, they are forced to spend more money. Even after spending money justice is not guaranteed.
- State of Justice Delivery: The lack of timely judgement has led to erosion of trust. Justice delivery should be more transparent, accessible and effective. Procedural barriers often undermine access to justice.
- Unapproachable courts and Judges: While approaching the Court, the common man should not feel scared of the Judges and courts. He should be able to speak the truth. It is the duty of lawyers and judges to create an environment which is comforting for the litigants and other stakeholders.
- Unavailability of Judges: Currently India has only 19.78 judges per million people.
- Representation of Women in Higher Judiciary is very Low:
- The first-ever woman judge (Justice Fatheema Beevi) in the Supreme Court (SC) was appointed in 1989, 39 years after the apex court came into existence. Since then, only 10 women have become judges in the apex court.
- In High Courts, women judges account for only 11%.
- In five HCs (Patna, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Uttarakhand high courts), no woman served as a judge.
The Way Forward
- Simplification and Localisation of the Rules: The executive has to match these efforts by way of simplifying the corresponding rules. Most importantly, the executive and the legislature should function in unison in realising the Constitutional aspirations. It is only in this situation that the judiciary will not be compelled to step in as a lawmaker and only be left with the duty of applying and interpreting the laws. There is a need to dispel the notion that it the court’s responsibility to make the law.
- Enable People to Decode Justice System: There is a need to strengthen the legal outreach programmes along with improving the judicial infrastructure. The top court has decided to launch a country-wide legal awareness mission in the coming week. Lack of proper infrastructure and funds curtail the activities of legal services institutions, reducing the number of beneficiaries.
- Alternate dispute mechanisms like mediation and conciliation would go a long way in reducing pendency, unnecessary litigation and save resources. The notion that ordinary people want black robed judges, well-dressed lawyers in fine courtrooms as settings to resolve their disputes is incorrect. People with problems, like people with pains, want relief and they want it as quickly and inexpensively as possible.