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Accessible and Affordable Judicial System (1 March 2021)

Accessible and Affordable Judicial System (1 March 2021)

Context:

  • Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has recently said that inordinate delay, cost of legal processes and inaccessibility are impeding the effective delivery of justice to the common man.

Background:

  • Accessible and Affordable Justice has been enshrined in DPSP under article 39 (A).

  • Article 39 (A) of the Constitution directs the State to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way.

Summary of the Debate

Where India stand in making Judicial System more accessible, affordable and understandable:

  • Judge- Population Ratio: In western countries, the ratio is between 50 to 70 judges per one million population, whereas in India, it stand at 20 judges per one million of the population.

  • Number of Judges: India has only 25,000 judges which are not enough to deal with the cases.

  • Vacancy: Almost, 39 percent of the seats in High Court and 35 percent in lower judiciary are lying vacant. 

  • Pending of cases: Due to corona pandemic, the pendency in court has increased from 3.2 crore to almost 5 crore.

  • Justice V. V Rao: In 2010, Justice V. V Rao of the Andhra Pradesh High Court has said that it will take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million pending cases in various courts.

  • National Court Management System: According to a study done by National Court Management System about the existing data of pendency and vacancy in 2012, it was found that “In the last three decade, the number of cases increased 12 fold while the number of judges increased only 6 fold”. It also said that in next three decades, the number of cases may rise up to 50 crore requiring 75,000 judges.

Major Challenges:

  • The usual reason for the pendency of cases is the judge population ratio in India is not as appreciable as it is in the western part of the world.

  • In spite of the efforts being made in the late 1990s till date, the use of technology in the judiciary has not taken off, it is only after pandemic that it came as a blessing and disguise that the court proceeding court also started virtual.

  • Posts in the judiciary are not filled up as expeditiously as they should be filled up.

  • Frequent adjournment is granted by the court to the advocates and advocates also seek adjournment in the cases on flimsy ground.

  • The process in judicial appointment is delayed because of delay in recommendation of collegiums for the higher judiciary or recruitment to be made either by the state commission or high court for the lower judiciary is the major cause.

Way Forward:

  • Appointment: The proportion in which numbers of cases are increasing and the number of judges is being appointed has to be improved.

  • Codification of law: In India, there are so many laws and there is need to codify these laws, so that the number of laws can be reduced.

  • Judicial Impact Assessment: Whenever, a new legislation is made, there is no judicial impact assessment done by the government. So, how much burden is going to be cost on judiciary is another important area which must be looked in to.

  • Adjudication of the dispute: The real role of the judiciary is adjudication of the disputes because if disputes are adjudicated in a particular time frame, people will have faith in system. Because delayed justice will erode trust in system.

  • All India Judicial Service: Suggestion given by Law Minister with regard to constitution of All India Judicial Service will definitely expedite the process of judicial appointment at the district judge level.

  • Use of Local Languages: For making the entire judicial system more understandable to the common man.

  • Technology: Use of technology, more particularly the use of Artificial Intelligence in the working of the judiciary as was said by Chief Justice in Patna High Court is very important.

Conclusion:

  • People are becoming more and more aware about their rights. Therefore, the numbers of cases which are being filed in the court are increasing. To take care of that, judicial officers need to be trained, vacancies need to be filled up, and judges’ strength needs to be increased.

All-India Judicial Service

  • The government is in the process of finalising a bill to establish an All-India Judicial Service to recruit officers for subordinate courts through an entrance test.
  • The Constitution of India was amended in 1977 to provide for an All-India Judicial Services under Article 312.
  • AIJS is a proposed cadre of judicial officers at the lower levels (below High Courts) recruited through an open competitive national level exam.
  • A National Judicial Commission will also be constituted to oversee the AIJS, working on the lines of UPSC.
  • Currently, the recruitment of lower level judicial officers is conducted by the respective state governments in consonance with the State High Courts.
  • Those who clear the pan-India test would be appointed by high courts and the State governments.
  • The AIJS exams will be conducted in four zones; East, West, North and South.
  • The government plans to conduct AIJS examinations in 22 languages.

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