It is a fact that people are afraid to approach Courts in this Country except in some cases. General perception now is that it is not worthy to approach courts even if there exist a right cause. It is also being criticized that the legal set-up is being misused by unscrupulous people to deny the legitimate rights of others. I don’t really understand as to why we could not focus on the important issues in the judiciary or legal set-up. There is a criticism on the inordinate delay in courts and can’t we fix this problem. Why can’t we reform our procedural laws like C.P.C? I have seen an exceptional Law Commission Report submitted during 50’s focusing on many important issues concerning on judiciary. I don’t know as to what follow-up action has been taken on that report. It is not enough saying that reforming our Judiciary or the legal process is a complicated exercise. We do not have any other option except reform our system in the right direction. The citizens, NGO’s, Senior Advocates, Associations, Government and more importantly the Constitutional Courts in this country can work for initiating proper legal reforms. If we do not bring the needed reforms in the legal system, then, ‘might becomes right’ and this is opposed to any democracy. If the Supreme Court of this Country takes-up the issue and insist the Government as to the steps taken by the Government in reforming our legal system, then, I feel that we can see reforms in the system. It is not enough establishing Fast Track Courts and it is not enough providing good funding to the Judiciary and the grant of funds may also produce some scam or irregularities in the Course. It is true that there is a need of infrastructure build-up in the Judiciary, but, we need lot of planning and other reforms. In my opinion, the following issues can easily be concentrated.
1. Focusing on Law Education in this Country and taking effective steps to ensure that only students with some basic standards graduate from Law Colleges and enter the legal profession.
2. Concentrating on the appointment Judges and Magistrates and ensuring appointment of right people to the job beyond any allegations in the appointments. We need to review the existing system of appointments and the irregularities are to be strictly viewed. This is a serious issue and if we ignore ability and talent here, it is very difficult to address the core issue of quality in justice and speedy justice.
3. Concentrating on the administration of Lower Judiciary. All Lower Courts are to be computerized and transparency in the functioning of Court mechanism is to be ensured. This is very important. There should be effective mechanism to address the corrupt allegations on the judicial officers. Many strongly feel that there is corruption with the confusing filing mechanism and registry at all levels and this is a dangerous thing and if we do not address this issue on urgent basis, even the efficient and honest judges can not turn the perception of the people back. The transparency in the registry of Courts will drastically change the perception of the people that there exists alarming corruption in the Judiciary. In my opinion, High Courts can have an effective supervisory mechanism in this regard.
4. We need to have a serious re-look into the procedural laws and we need drastic changes in procedures. The Civil Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Evidence Act are to be changed and we need to simplify the procedural issues and the law governing Evidence logically and keeping the ground realities into consideration. If Tribunal can follow a simply procedure, there can not be any meaning as to why we can not change the procedural laws followed by Civil Courts in this Country and we need to change this procedural issues as otherwise, we can never achieve the object of ‘speedy justice’ in this country. We don’t need isolated and eye-wash changes and we need complete change. If we sit in any Civil Court in this country for a day and observe the proceedings, then, we can understand as to where the problem lies. We need to focus as to whether we need oral evidence in each and every case. Can the Oral Evidence be given lot of weight now logically?. We need to focus on these issues on urgent basis.
5. We need to focus on appointments of High Court Judge and appointments should be beyond any criticism and to the best, ability can never be ignored. With independence to judiciary when it comes to appointment of judges, I don’t understand as to why there are allegations with this process too. The appointment process to be balancing and also there should effective and fair mechanism to deal with the serious corrupt allegations on the judges of Constitutional Courts. Mild allegations and technical arguments can always be ignored, but, serious allegations require a serious consideration.
6. There should be proper funding for legal infrastructure and the funding should be used prudently and towards achieving the objective.
I strongly feel that giving a serious look into the issues referred above can change the perception of the people about our legal system. India is a largest democracy and it is growing and we can not, any more, venture ignoring our legal system. People are not interested in listening to blame game. Executive may say that they can do little in this regard and the Judiciary may show only funding issue. We should avoid this confusion and both Judiciary and the Executive should work together with the right spirit of providing efficacious and speedy reddressel to the litigants. I believe that people do have confidence in our High Courts and Supreme Court, but, they are afraid to approach Lower Courts and Civil Courts. There are some issues which executive should focus and it may take some time to see reforms in this regard. The issues which the executive is to focus are like:
a. Respecting and implementing the orders of the Court speedily and with the right spirit. The orders of the Court are to be implemented even now, but, everyone knows the difficulties.
b. We know as to how Government defends its case and they should be speedy and effective in this regard. Government should appoint Advocates, Prosecutors and Panel Advocates on the basis of merit and they should change their rules with regard to the payment of fees to their Counsel if required. There should not be purely political considerations in this regard and we can not expect immediate change in this regard. Problems persist and change will come slowly with the overall reforms in our political system and society.
c. We need to have an efficient police respecting the laws of the land and they should work speedily. We know the allegations in this regard. Unless the police and the police system are transparent and efficient, we can not expect punishing the culprits. Innocent will get punished with the system now and it is the perception of the people.
d. No Government should think that the functioning of Courts or the Lower Courts depends upon their funding and they should feel that it’s their responsibility.
Like-wise there are certain issues which we can easily be reformed and there are certain complicated issues and reforming these complicated issues may take some time. We need not club all the issues and should not complicate the issue. People want change and they will not remain silent; and a weak and inefficient legal system can damage our entire system.
I believe that if the Supreme Court of this Country gets an opportunity to focus on these issues for some time, force for proper reforms; then, we can expect some reforms in the legal system.
System is not for few vested interest people and it should not be confined to mighty. The system is for the people.
I also believe that the Senior Advocates, Privileged professionals, NGO’s and right spirited Citizens and media will focus on this serious issue. Media should not be interested only to make a spicy programme on Talwar’s case for viewership. All political parties should come together in this regard. People are not interested in blame game and they need constructive measures in addressing the issues.
The Supreme Court of this Country has passed many land-mark judgments and we have also seen the results. We know the public interest litigations on environmental issues, scams and we know the basic structure theory and as to how the provisions of Part-III of the Constitution were laudably been interpreted despite the criticism. I strongly believe that this issue can be addressed if the Supreme Court of this Country makes its focus at the relevant time and when the opportunity comes.
Note: the views expressed are my personal, with all the respect to the judges and courts and views are expressed with public interest only.
V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court.