The President of India’s recent comments regarding timely and affordable justice highlight an essential aspect of judicial reforms. Comment.
समय पर और वहनीय न्याय के संबंध में भारत के राष्ट्रपति की हालिया टिप्पणी न्यायिक सुधारों के एक अनिवार्य पहलू को उजागर करती है। टिप्पणी कीजिए।
In this question candidates should write about importance of timely and affordable justice is essential aspect of judicial reforms .
Speedy and affordable Justice is not only a fundamental right but also a prerequisite of maintaining the rule of law and delivering good governance. Hence, appropriate reforms as needs to be taken in order to have a robust justice system ensuring timely justice.
Inordinate delay, cost of legal processes and inaccessibility are impeding the effective delivery of justice to the common man.
- Equal Justice: Accessible and Affordable Justice has been enshrined in DPSP under article 39 (A).However, due to various structural and systematic challenges, the aspiration to meet this objective looks blur.
- High Pendency of Cases: The total pendency of cases in the several courts of India at different levels, sums up to a total of about 3.7 crores thus increasing the demand of a better and improved judicial system.
- The National Court Management, a report of the Supreme Court in 2012, studied the data of pendency of cases and vacancy of judges.
- It showed that in the last 3 decades, the number of cases increased by 12 folds while the number of judges increased only by 6 folds.
- Widening Gap: The gap between the number of judges and cases is widening.In the next 3 decades, the number of cases is expected to rise by approximately 15 crores requiring a total no of judges about 75000.
- In fact, currently the 25 high courts have the strength of less than 1200 judges.
- Article 39 (A) of the Constitution directs the State to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way.
- Though ‘access to justice’ has not been specifically spelt out as a fundamental right in the Constitution, it has always been treated as such by Indian courts.
- In Anita Kushwaha v. Pushpa Sadan (2016),the Supreme Court held unambiguously that “life” implies not only life in the physical sense but a bundle of rights that also means right to access justice.
- Further, the court pointed out four important components of access to justice. It pointed out the need for adjudicatory mechanisms. It said that the mechanism must be conveniently accessible in terms of distance and that the process of adjudication must be speedy and affordable to the disputants.
- The Government has undertaken several measures to make available affordable, quality and speedy justice to the common man.The Legal Services Authorities (LSA) Act,1987 provides free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society including beneficiaries covered under Section 12 of the Act .
- To ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, and to organize Lok Adalats to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunities.
- For this purpose, the legal services institutions have been set up from the Taluk Court levels to the Supreme Court. During the period from April, 2021 to November, 2021, 60.17 lakhs persons have been provided with free legal services and 132.37 lakhs cases (pending in courts and disputes at pre-litigation stage) have been settled through Lok Adalats.
- Legal Aid Clinics have also been set up in jails, observation homes, juvenile justice boards which are manned by panel lawyers and para legal volunteers of legal services authorities.
- Further, to enable equitable access to justice, National Legal Services Authorities (NALSA) has also launched Legal Services Mobile App on Android and iOS Version to enable easy access to legal aid to common citizens.
- The Government has launched two important legal empowerment initiatives which includes Nyaya Bandhu (Pro-bono Legal Services) programme to link the persons eligible to avail free legal aid under Section 12 of LSA Act, 1987 with the pro-bono lawyers. 3840 pro bono advocates have been registered under the programme and 1440 cases have been registered by the beneficiaries.
- The other initiative is the Tele-law: Reaching the Unreached, being run by the Government which provides legal advice to public including persons entitled for free legal aid under Section 12 of LSA Act, 1987, at pre-litigation stage by the Panel Lawyers through the Common Service Centers (CSCs) at the Panchayats. Tele-law has served more than 13.7 lakh beneficiaries till date.
- Streamlining the Appointment System: The vacancies must be filled without any unnecessary delay.
- A proper time frame for the appointment of judges must be laid down and the recommendations must be given in advance.
- The Constitution of the All India Judicial Services is also an important factor which can definitely help India establish a better judicial system.
- Use of Technologies: People are becoming more and more aware of their rights and which is why the number of cases filed in court are also increasing.
- To deal with that judicial officers need to be trained, vacancies for the judges must be filled up expeditiously and in addition the use of technology particularly artificial intelligence must be encouraged.
- Dispute Resolution: The adjudication of disputes within a short time frame is important to ensure the trust of the people within the judicial system.
- Out of Court Settlement: Resolving every case within the court premises is not mandatory; other possible systems must also be accessed.
- Alternate dispute resolution (ADR): As stated in the Conference on National Initiative to Reduce Pendency and Delay in Judicial System- Legal Services Authorities should undertake pre-litigation mediation so that the inflow of cases into courts can be regulated.
- The Lok Adalat should be organized regularly for settling civil and family matters.
- Gram Nyayalayas, as an effective way to manage small claim disputes from rural areas which will help in decreasing the workload of the judicial institution.
- Village Legal Care & Support Centre can also be established by the High Courts to work at grass root level to make the State litigation friendly.
The fundamental requirement of a good judicial administration is accessibility, affordability and speedy justice, which will not be realized until and unless the justice delivery system is made within the reach of the individual in a time bound manner and within a reasonable cost.