In general, public look at the Judiciary and Law professionals with a high sense of respect, next only to Temples.
But in reality, as per the present defective judiciary standards followed by Indian Courts, the public, at large, are suffering from undue delays in disposal of cases. There are lots of pending cases in every Court including Supreme Court of India. Even in cases of open murders like Rajiv Gandhi, 26/11 Bombay atrocities, the Courts dragged the cases for more than five years and built volumes of case files as if they were writing Detective Novels or TV serials.
In a nutshell, there are various factors contributing to the undue delay in disposal of cases in Courts. Heavy inflow of cases due to growth of erratic population, light punishment formulae, adoption of age old British laws and practices, an inappropriate administrative methodology not in tune with the times, incompetent lawyers, Non-implementation of Information Technology to the full extent, non applicability of time norms and limitation Act, etc.
Concerned Officials at the helm of affairs and decision makers in Govt Circle have to focus their attention on the following:
1. Number of Courts and judicial officers are to be increased in tune with the pending cases.
2. Punishments should be harsh enough so that the lawbreakers get dissuaded from repeating crimes / offences.
3. A case that can be settled within one or two postings is dragged up to 2 to 3 years with all possible lame excuses. Some of the Judges also do not exhibit concern for speedy disposal of cases. This is to be arrested and the concerned are to be made accountable.
4. Though Information Technology has taken its roots in the country way back of about 4 decades, still the Courts sit at the back bench. Lawyers are to be facilitated to login, upload the presentations of their cases and see all the case details, presentations, documents uploaded by other lawyers, obtain the CA copies online. Digital communication system like emails and SMS have to be implemented fast.
Similarly, lawyer can cite cross-reference of any document of any case in other cases. Mere citation is sufficient, rather than producing/uploading the CA copies again. The court staff can login and view the respective document as a cross check. Every Judge / Officer of the Courts and all the lawyers have to be provided with digital signatures. Personal attendance of lawyers has to be restricted only at the initial stages of filing new cases, presenting his clients, adducing oral evidence wherever essential etc.
5. Time norms are to be fixed to the Courts for disposal depending upon the type of cases and status of courts. For example, in lower courts simple civil cases of land disputes, encroachments etc. 3 months. Family cases: 6 months. Criminal cases: maximum 6 months. High Court: writ petitions: 1 week. Civil cases: 3 months, family cases: 6 months, criminal cases: maximum 6 months. Whenever the case is adjourned or posted for a next date, normally it should not exceed one week.
6. Courts have to necessarily adopt modern administrative standards by conducting mediation process at a single sitting. Where ever oral evidences are adduced, the proceedings are conducted in camera rather than doing bundles of paper work. Government should install necessary cameras / recording systems in each court so that matters can be simplified and no one can go back or contradict from their own statements.
7. In family cases, wherever it is feasible, the Courts can suggest and try to unite the divided couple in a single counseling session. Seldom it is possible. After examining and interacting with the couples for a few minutes, the Courts can issue Decree of Divorce immediately and close the case fast. After issuing the Decree of Divorce, if the same couple decides to unite back, it is a welcome step and it should be permitted to be registered with Registrar of Marriages.
Similarly, in the particular case if the aggrieved party is entitled for any monetary relief either by way of monthly maintenance or permanent alimony, the same Decree should incorporate the said clause with permanent payment mechanism through Bank accounts. The parties need not approach Courts for receiving payments every month.
Wherever the criminal aspect is involved on either side, as per the evidences produced and examined by the Court, the necessary punishment be awarded and the particular person be handed over to Police Department for implementation of punishment.
Multiplication of cases has to be avoided. All the family cases with different aspects/titles as above are to be merged together in place of the present multiplication practice of DVC, Divorce OP, Criminal cases like IPC.498A etc.
8. Now that the Government has issued Aadhaar Cards to all the citizens, the public /Registrar of Marriages have to upload the matrimonial details of spouse immediately after marriage. Similarly, the Courts have to upload the case reference number and brief details of all types of cases including, civil, criminal and family cases in the master data. That should be visible to the authorized lawyers / Meeseva centers for cross verification.
9. If the advocate of any client or the client himself intentionally absents himself on the appointed day without justifiable reason consecutively for three postings, it is to be presumed that he is not interested in the case. In such cases, judgment has to be delivered based on the facts / documents already on record and the case can be closed in absentia.
10. Summer holidays to Courts are to be scrapped.
11. Surveillance cameras are to be installed in all Court halls, courtrooms so that the corrupt practices can be minimized.
12. Let there not be any sympathy for criminals at the cost of common man / innocent.
13. The Courts mostly follow the written law adopted from age-old British Law without applying the principles of natural justice and common sense applicable in the present day environment. They have to change their outlook.
14. The courts have to dispense with the present day ritual of roll-calling daily morning hours simply to give some new posting date. The personal presence of the clients is to be restricted only to the extent the number of cases that can be dealt with by the courts and finished to a logical end on that particular day.
15. Wrongful performance evaluation system: The Courts want to show high statistics as to work load by steadily increasing the volume of pending cases. It appears, the judges’ performance is not reckoned as to the disposal of cases, but they study in relation to the outstanding cases. If it is so, the methodology has to be changed to this extent.
16. Granting legal sanctity to authorized settlement centers: It is a notable point by the Courts that even private settlement centers and some TV channels like ZeeTelugu, Gemini TV and Star MAA TV are working far better as family counselors and disposing the cases by conducting mediation process at a single sitting. The proceedings are conducted in camera for one or two hours. The Settlement arrived / the memorandum of understandings entered by the parties concerned should be given legal sanctity and should be barred for challenges / appeal in lower Courts.
17. The present doctrine of criminal jurisprudence “The burden of proving the guilt of the accused beyond doubt is upon the prosecution” is amply misused by the criminals. This has to undergo a change.
18. Online filing of FIR should be adopted by all the Police Stations across the country.
19. Media campaigns should be done to make people aware about the judicial system and its implications.
20. People having criminal cases against them should not be allowed to contest elections.
21. Lying or producing false witnesses in the court should attract heavy penalty.
22. Judicial categories with sector- wise expertise have to be developed to close the cases quickly.
23. The system of appealing in higher courts should be restricted to only in special cases on extraordinary grounds.
24. Retired judges and senior lawyers have to be licensed to set up mediation centers with legal sanctity for their conclusions / judgments.
25. Some of the retired judges should be engaged for short period services for overseeing the lower courts and help in quick closure of cases. They should be paid a monthly honorarium.
26. All convicted criminals should be allotted with a permanent criminal record number so that all his future crimes should be recorded in the same master file. This CR No. has to be linked to Aadhaar Master Data. These criminals should be barred from all subsidies, concessions, etc from the Government.
27. Release of all under trials who have spent more time in jail than required by the committed crime. We have to reduce burden on the exchequer. He/she should be maintained by his family only.
28. Lok Adalats should be made standing, regular, full-fledged courts with their procedures being fast, simple and short and aimed primarily at mediation and conciliation.
29. Speed Courts for females and children have to focus to solve problems on war footing.
30. Legal advisory services should be made freely available for poor people of BPL category. Government has to pay the fees to the particular lawyer as per Advocates Fee rules.
31. Lawyers, who play dirty tactics of delaying the case by not appearing in court on date and in time, should be heavily fined. Recurrence should lead to debarment.
32. Medical certificates can be accepted only from court-authorized doctors/hospitals.
33. False cases being brought to court should be a jailable offence.
34. BAR Councils have to streamline their disciplinary standards to keep the lawyer members at High Standards of Morals / Professional Ethics / Responsibilities. Complaints lodged by the clients on the errand lawyers have to be disposed fast, within a maximum period of 6 months.