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Human Rights and Criminal Justice System
|by Shanker Adawal|
In Search of Justice
As the scheme of things in India today, among three principal organs of Government the Judiciary is held in high esteem. However, with a backlog of 3.4 Crore cases and with the emergence of Jan Adalats (Kangroo Courts) in different parts of the country, several questions needs to be asked. The primary objective of this article is to look at the hardships in getting justice mostly in the Subordinate Judiciary. Because it is in these courts where most of the common men in this country go expecting Justice.
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
‘Justice to Common men’ is the primary objective of the legal mechanism of the country. But in the present situation the common men have no hope of getting justice. In the judicial mechanism there are three players, i.e. Judge, Lawyers and the common men; among which the common men are at the receiving end everywhere. The unspoken law of delays in Indian Courts is the main roadblock in the way of distributive justice. As mentioned earlier there are more than 3 crore cases pending in different parts of the country, and it will take near about three hundred years to disperse these cases if our courts continue the same speed they are moving on now.
We can take the famous case of Shibu Soren, where the warrants were not being served for some thirty years. In between these thirty years several of the accused as well as complainants are dead and still the case is pending. Now if also the verdict comes it will be of little use.
The situation in the subordinate judiciary is more serious 2 Crore 78 Lakhs cases are pending alone in the subordinate judiciary. It is a sorry state of affairs in the Lower Courts that none is bothered about the merit of the case. Nor the complainant nor the accused understand what is happening, some time even the lawyers don’t understand the proceedings. Every thing goes in a motion without slightest of interest in delivering justice. Any one who has ever witnessed the presentation of a defense lawyer in a lower court would agree what a mockery of the whole system it is. The lawyer would start with something that has nothing to do with the case and he would end up saying ‘to err is human and to forgive is divine.’
Appeals, Adjournments and Stay orders; these are certain complex areas in the subordinate judiciary which must be addressed in order to have a free, fair and timely process of justice. The system has become so rotten that, in a court like Tees Hazari you would find it difficult to make it out who is holding court where. There is a direction from the Supreme Court that the cases involving older persons are to be dispersed early, but none has ever bothered to comply with the direction.
Lack of infrastructure is one primary hurdle, which comes in the way of delivering justice in the lower courts. Lack of Courtrooms as well as staff is one acute problem that is being faced by the lower courts where most of India’s rural mass goes to settle their disputes. Anand Saroop, a noted Legal personality as well as a former Secretary of Government of India, in a workshop on Judicial Reforms said that the conditions in which lawyers have to work in the Lower Courts are same with the conditions of prostitutes. He compares the scene in a bar association room and the scene in a brothel in Bhindi Bazar and Sonagachhi and concludes that both the place looks same where ‘client waiting’ is the whole thing.
In the Parliamentary Democracy of India it is the citizen who is most important. However in a court it is the citizen who is addressed in the most humiliating manner. A Judge is called Lord, super Lord; one lawyer is called in the most respectable manner but a common men seems top lose all his respectability once he goes to the court.
In The grip of Corruption
It is an unsaid but mostly felt reality that corruption has become all-purposive in the present system of judiciary. It is a fact that rich and powerful almost never get convicted. Let us ask ourselves how many people are convicted for the murders in 1984? Cases like Jessica Lal, Tandoor Murder case, Sahabuddin case, Amarmani Tripathy case all are but examples of failed legal system in India. An unholy nexus between police, lawyers and judges have been developed over the times adding to the agony of common men. Paying bribes have become too common in the functioning of the courts. It is a sad reality that if you want to give bribe to the judge one would need a facilitator and most of the time it is the lawyer who act as the facilitator. In return the Judge also help the lawyer by granting him with a number of adjournments, as the more the adjournment the more is the income of the lawyer. Now where do you find the common men in this scheme? It’s very unfortunate that for all practical purposes there is no place for common men in the existing system.
Parallel System of Judiciary
Justice Venkatcheliah, the Former Chief Justice of India, while speaking on a workshop recently commented that because of the failure of normal judicial system there is an increase of Jan Adalats or Kangroo Courts all over the country. It’s fact. Over the years the court procedures have become so costly and time taking that the poor ignorant rural majority of this country are afraid of going to the courts. It is a fact that so many families in rural India have committed suicide after becoming bankrupt fighting the court cases. I t is in these circumstances people from the naxalite affected regions and in most parts of north-eastern India have started deposing their faiths on the Jan Adalats or the Kangroo Courts held by different extremist groups. It is for these reasons there has been a considerable drop in court cases in the naxal infested regions of Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and others. This is a serious problem and this can’t be allowed to go on.
When the founding fathers of Indian Constitution devised this subordinate judiciary system, it was the main intention that Justice is not far from the under privileged section of the society. However, over the years the system has become so complex that the common men has lost his faith. To do away with the problem we need to have a comprehensive look at the whole legal system with special care to delays. Much has been already said on Judicial Reforms, it’s high time that this country witnesses some of the reform process. Speed, cost and fairness are the principal elements of any judicial system, and these must be restored. Everyone must realize that a healthy system of judiciary is necessary to maintain social order. We must develop separate institutions to deal with commercial disputes, land cases, family cases and other regulatory offences, which are not the replica of the normal system of judiciary. Vacations in the courts must be given a re-look. On the whole the civil society must wake up to diminishing standards of Judiciary.
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