By Siddhartha Shankar Mishra
It is a fact that leaving few all the laws/ acts/ rules were made by the britishers and were used by them efficiently for their cause. After we received freedom, the same laws continued but slowly it were less of used and more of abused. Even if we look towards the new laws made by us they seem to be made in such haste or may be under pressure that the resultant is draconian effect. We have failed to make a simple marriage/ divorce/ harassment act which is balanced or not biased. We have made laws for the protection of women but under the process we have made a law against the men, similarly law to protect the sc/ st is another draconian law heavily biased towards the complainants. If an innocent man is entrapped he has no recourse except to spend his nights in jail, and there are many more examples. We have proved that we are a failure when it comes to making law for our country. We have yet to understand that the law should be in such form and feature that it is as protective to the complainant as to the accused; each one should have equal opportunity and protection.
In a democratic country like India, judiciary plays a vital role in establishing a state of justice. Therefore being the watchdog, they are not allowed to shift their burden to others for their failure to establish an actual State of Justice. It is judiciary on which millions of people have struck their faith of getting justice. It has the capability of imparting justice to the aggrieved. It is that part of our constitution which acts as its Messiah. It is that structure of our society, which cemented its place next to the God and if not properly dispensed will shatter down the entire trinity of democratic instrumentalists with checks balances, parliamentary structure and the judicial facets of our constitution. Generally, aggrieved with lots of pain anguish and hope in their heart approaches the court of law for their grievances to be clarified but at the end of the day the procedural lacuna left them with bare hands. They are denied of their most important right of Justice.
In India, Justice is beyond the reach of most and the right of access to it is not communicated to the citizens properly. In many a circumstances it was found that the litigant who has had access to the court failed to obtain quick relief and for some never have the opportunity even to knock the doors of the court due to ignorance and poverty. If we want justice to be accessible to all, then it must be relieved from the Laissez faire pattern, where justice like other commodity can be purchased and initiative must be taken to educate the populace.
Quest for justice has nothing to do with procedure or jurisdictional aspect rather it cares for its speedy disposal. Delay in disposal of cases is considered as one of the most vexed and worrying problem. It is the code of procedures, which makes it so worse. However personality likes Nani Phalkiwala opined that” Justice in common parlance is considered as blind but in India it is lame too and hobbles on crutches. It is on the verge of collapse with more than 30 million cases clogging the system. There are cases that take so much of time that even a generation is too short to get any type of redressal.”
86 year old Sukhram, the telecom minister in the cabinet of P V Narsimha Rao in 1996 has been sentenced to five years in prison and has been sent to Tihar.
He had been avoiding jail by getting statutory bail. An angry young man slapped Sukhram as he was being taken away because, he felt that the punishment of 5-years was too little for a crime of such huge proportions.
All eyes are today focused on A Raja and his involvement in the 2-G spectrum telecom scam which robbed the exchequer of crores of rupees. But A Raja is a babe in the woods. One of his predecessors, Sukhram began telecom scams in India in 1996. Sukhram was the Minister of Telecom in the Narsimha Rao government and has now been sent to prison for five years. He had accepted bribes amounting to Rs. 3 lakhs to award a contract for supply of telecom cables to a private contractor.
This is the sad state of affairs of the law in India today that a punishment of a crime committed in 1996 is awarded after nearly 15 years. Such situations are exploited to the hilt by offenders and justice delayed is justice denied. Slow action encourages others to follow the examples set by the earlier cases.
The case of A Raja and 2-G spectrum scam is one that falls in this category, there is utter confusion and since he is from the DMK camp, the ruling UPA coalition is wary of upsetting the equation. Every day new names are cropping up and the CBI has to keep up their search to unearth newer evidence that adds to the delays.
Delayed decisions, piled up files and indefinitely extending projects, never serve their purpose. They are the real roadblocks to development of any state or nation. Generally, delayed decisions take its maximum toll from the under privileged section as Poor section of our society, who were always treated as animals. They are often denied of their bare amenities of life.
Consider the condition of the poor victims of Bhopal gas Leak disaster, which took a toll of 15000 people. Years had passed to that ghastly incident; still now victims were fighting for its compensation, which fails to measure up the damage caused to them. Consider the terrible situation occurred in August 1991 as massacre of Dalits at Tsundur in Andhra Pradesh. Years had passed to that incident; the families of the victims of Tsundur, still await justice for those who died. They say, they will not find any peace until the guilty are punished for their crime. Consider the condition of those girls who were brutally gang raped during the Godhra riots in front of their helpless family members. Consider the victims of Best Bakery case who still awaits justice to be dispensed in their favor but the climax starts with the key witness in the case turned hostile and the entire fate of the Bakery case is in turmoil. Today the victims of the all the above-enumerated cases know full well that the price of truth is extremely high.
Delay in our judiciary has reached a point where it has become a factor of injustice, a violator of human rights. Praying for justice, the parties become part of a long, protracted and torturing process, not knowing when it will end. Where it should take one to two years for the disposal of a civil suit, a case is dragged for 10 to 15 years, or even more. By the time judgment is pronounced the need for the judgment in certain cases is no more required. Moreover, in a society of class differentiation, the lengthy process, which is adversarial and confrontational in nature, puts the economically stronger party at an advantageous position. If the judiciary functions substantively and in accordance with the procedural laws, an existing wide scope for delays, can transform it into a system which becomes procedurally hostile towards marginalized sections of our people, defeating the goals of social justice.
Delay in disposal of cases is considered as one of the most vexed and worrying problem. It is the code of procedures, which makes it so worse. Procedures must be utilized to advance the cause of justice but in India it is used to thwart it. Justice is something which should be dispensed as early as possible otherwise it will be too late for a critic to add a common adage to that Justice Delayed is Justice Denied. Current situation shows that it will take more than 300 years to clear the backlog of cases in Indian courts
Indian Judicial System must change. It must change itself for the better and not bitter for the people. British quit India more than six decades back but the British system is stronger than ever before through Indian lawyers and judiciary. This is something to be personally experienced to believe it.
In India, especially for the ruling elite including the lawyers and judges there are more rights than duties. They serve more the rich, the urban, the social elite and less the rural people and the hapless villagers. Majority of Indian people who live in villages, toil hard and produce food and fiber for all cannot afford our judicial system. They silently suffer and silently pray and seek justice from the Supreme Judge and Creator the God Almighty.
To become a lawyer or judge is to forget one’s own culture, civilization and the path through which he or she reached the present position. This is equally true with other professions too.
India is free from the so called British Rule. Cricket to Judiciary India excels even Great Britain today. Naturally we are more British today than ever before. India badly needs today Indian Home Rule than ever before. The stumbling block for this Home Rule will be right from Indian Judiciary to Indian Lawyers down to political and apolitical elites sitting in National Capital Territory Delhi and State Capitals and exploiting the millions living in villages.
A Judge needs vacation. A Lawyer needs vacation. Both needs court rooms and files. Judges need salary enhancements and privileges and pensions. Lawyers need their fees whether the case is admitted or not and the judgment is in the litigants favor or not. They can dare for a Court Bandh or National Bandh.
Indian villagers who produce food and fiber cannot afford vacation. They do not demand and they give. They remain hungry and feed even those already fed. This is Indian village and Indian civilization. This may not be easily understood by the Western Civilization that is beyond recognition and its original fragrance due to Industrialization and self-centeredness.
In my view, reforms are required in one other area apart from economic and judicial reforms. And that is in the electoral process and basic parliamentary affairs. Good governance is the need of the hour (even for any kind of reform) yet, we continue with an archaic format of electing a government and running the same. Why should we have 500 odd MPs sitting and arguing about legislation? Why not have 100000 elected representatives who can behave like true voices of the people at large? Why can’t real issues be raised and discussed in the lok sabha? Why can’t we have a parliamentary system that really raises the accountability of the Executive?
Surely the rules that applied in 1947 do not hold good today. Surely the biggest way of leveraging IT is in running a perfect democracy and making legislative decisions truly information and opinion led rather than politically motivated.
The legacy that I would really want the current government to leave behind is one of making good governance a feasible proposition in this vast country by completely re-casting our electoral and legislative process.
The problem with our judicial system is finding the person for the job. We need persons with balance of mind with ability to exercise discretion appropriately.
Lack of common sense is killing judiciary. There is scarcity of commonsense in judiciary. Person with good appetite for problems and perception to solve is the need of the hour. Judicial system requires intense training and personality development for those who are presiding to solve the dispute of the people. There is a very famous saying in the law that lets hundred of criminals be set free but one innocent cannot be get convicted or punished. Not always justice delayed is justice denied as there is also famous saying that justice hurried is justice buried reason being if we disposed of all the proceeding in hurry there may be too much chances that some important facts, clues will be left un noticed due to various reasons. But altogether we can also not ignored this fact also that some time some innocent person would get caught and they keep on fighting to prove their innocence, which develop some kind of dissatisfaction among them and due to which these people sometimes start following the wrong path and resulted into creation of criminals though earlier they were not.
Time has come for the present generation to awake and arise, if the world is to be better for them and for future generations.
The irony of delayed justice took 33 years to pronounce Uday Raj with an imprisonment of three months with a fine of Rs 5000. What was his mistake? He was found preparing for a dacoity along with 10 other accomplices. Some more interesting facts are yet to come.
The judgment is pronounced by a fast track court, how fast let’s not discuss. Another jolt, one of the co-accused is still awaiting a final disposal of his trial. Uday Raj is still found to be lucky for having admitted his crime otherwise, it could have taken some more years in the case coming to a decision.
Uday Raj on being pronounced with the judgment appealed to the court for leniency as he is already 65 years old.
The case started on April 18, 1977, when 11 persons were arrested by the police while they were planning for a dacoity. The trial continued for almost 33 years. Uday Raj himself didn’t attend court proceedings on three to four occasions and was ultimately issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW).
Lastly, he absconded and was arrested on October 12 ,2010. Since then, he has been in jail. On November 11,2010 the accused filed an application in the court confessing his guilt.
The above case once again has popped up the question of the mockery of the justice in the country. Is there any relevance of the judgment pronounced after 33 years of committing the crime? Will it make any difference to the person who has been facing trial for the last more than 30 years for the crime he didn’t commit?
Even if he has not attended the trials or has absconded is it worth to waste the precious time of the court and the hard earned money of the tax payers in feeding such criminals in jails only due to slow procedures of our legal system? Even after so much of discussions and explanations, the legal system is going to its worst shapes instead of being improved with the help of latest techniques. With the talk of trials on web conferencing when we think of the cases like Uday Raj, can we think of the advancing the legal systems?
Where courts are busy in attending the appeals of their lower ones, and other such issues far away from the scope of the courts, humanity somewhere is left buried below the bunch of files which no one dares to uncover or we can say do anyone wants to extract these files out unless some political issue is attached to it.