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JUDICIAL REFORM – need of the hour

As it stands, justice delivery system in India is in shambles. A study by ‘National Judicial Data Grid’ suggesting that 4.2 million cases are pending in 24 High Courts in India lends credence to the fact that Judicial Reform is the need of the hour. The reason behind such exorbitant rate of pendency can be traced to the scarcity of jurists and opaque system of appointment of judges by the Collegium, keeping in mind the unaccountable appointment system the government in bid to make the system more transparent brought about 99th C.C.A (Constitutional Amendment Act) but this attempt of the government was struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India declaring the 99th CCA as
ultra vires and void. There have been some dissent voices suggesting the court to review their decision in the NJAC (National Judicial Appointment Committee) judgement.

“Justice delayed is justice denied”, In the light of this legal maxim people from all walks of life including lawyers and jurists have articulated the possibilities of reformation in judicial system. 230th report of Law Commission, chaired by Hon’ble Dr Justice A. R. Lakshmanan has unequivocally enunciated the various facets of Reformation such as selection of High Court judges, increase in number of judges and creation of new Benches, Speedy Justice, Access to Justice, etc. The Law Commission also incorporated the recommendations from an article titled “Judicial Reforms” published in Halsbury’s Law monthly authored by Hon’ble Shri Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, a former Supreme Court Judge the recommendations made are quoted below:

  1. There must be full utilization of the court working hours. The judges must be punctual and lawyers must not be asking for adjournments, unless it is absolutely necessary. Grant of adjournment must be guided strictly by the provisions of Order 17 of the Civil Procedure Code.
  2. Many cases are filed on similar points and one judgment can decide a large number of cases. Such cases should be clubbed with the help of technology and used to dispose other such cases on a priority basis, this will substantially reduce the arrears.
  3. Judges must deliver judgments within a reasonable time and in that matter, the guidelines given by the apex court in the case of Anil Rai VS State of Bihar, must be scrupulously observed, both in civil and criminal cases.
  4. Lawyers must not resort to strike under any circumstances and must follow the decision of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Harish Uppal case (Harish Uppal (Ex-Capt.) VS Union of India reported in (2003) 2 SCC 45).
  5. Judgements must be lucid and unambiguous free from ambiguity.

The recommendations articulated in the article are easier said than done, it entails diligent efforts from all three organs of the government. Paraphrasing the recommendations, it shall not be wrong to say that restructuring the Judiciary with the cooperation from the various agencies can reform the justice delivery system as quintessence of the virtue of equity.

Another facet of Reformation is not only the pendency but the crumbling infrastructure, especially of lower courts, is a neglected issue yet very much evident. A report enunciates the prima facie issue that has been haunting judicial system from ages. In a nutshell judicial reform is an inevitable truth which needs to be looked upon solemnly and along with assistance and cooperation from research institutions.

Mohit Kumar

Mohit Kumar is a law student from Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi

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