William E. Gladstone quoted once, Justice delayed is justice denied. Countries majorly rely on the institution of courts for the peaceful resolution of disputes. Contemporarily, the courts in India are overburdened with countless undisposed cases. Case Pendency is one of the most serious problems which India is facing. Also, the cases have been on the tables for years without any decision. In my accordance, this can be called ‘justice delayed’ and the ‘denied justice’ can be implied. The diverse population of India challenges the court with a different types of cases. These cases pile up year by year.
The count has reached a point beyond the capacity of the courts currently. One of the direct impacts of this has been the curtail in the reliability of the people who seek justice. Common man believes the courts as a cumbersome engagement with uncertain results. This article aims to statistically analyse the mentioned concern. Along with the related issues the probable solutions to the same have been presented.
Pending cases: Some Statistics
National Judicial data grid is one of the attempts of the judicial system to regulate, monitor the court proceedings in India. From the insights of the same here are some statistics presented. The number of pending cases in India to date is 3,91,88,687. Out of these cases, 3,05,15,719 cases are more than 1 year old. This astonishing statistical data can ring an alarm to any reader. The consolidated figures by the National Judicial data grid certainly give a call to take some serious reforms for the same.
There are many instances when the honourable courts delayed their decision in significant matters. From the recent cases, one is the Nirbhaya case. India castigated the failure of the court for its failure to serve justice for the heinous and gross crime of rape.
The infamous case of Assn. Of Victims Of Uphaar Tragedy vs Union Of India which observed the death of 59 citizens took 23 years to declare a judgement. The court was defamed by the country for its insensitivity in this perilous incident.
Reasons and Issues
Inadequate economic support
Economic support is the mandate for any functioning system. Our judiciary is already lacking in infrastructure and the funding for required legal developments. The spending for law and judiciary is less than 0.1% of GDP. The per capita spending on legal aid is just Rs 0.75. Without doing enough budget allocation, the justice system might wreck. Any country’s weak judicial system can bring in numerous irrecoverable problems for the country.
Inefficient appointment system
The persisting vacancies and sluggish appointment system is the prime cause of the matter. This directly compromises the strength of judicial service. The number of judges in India per 1,00,000 population for 2020 was just 1.47. No surge could be seen as the statistic stood precisely at 1.38 for the year 2019. The lower courts have a high count of vacancies.
Here, the situation seems paradoxical. Where the judicial system is delaying justice, the reason in front of us comes from a lack of personnel in the sphere. Surprisingly, the number of jobless graduates of law could drop anyone’s job. These educated unemployed masses are ubiquitously present. Justice Chandrachud has frequently brought up the issue, the clogged system of the judiciary and has held obsolete ways responsible.
Solutions to the issue
There is no scope for improvement until enough judicial officers are put to work. This backlog of pendency is a mammoth task to be dealt with. The establishment of Lok Adalats was one such reform that has created magical differences. The regular sitting of such bodies in villages has eased the justice-seeking process in many states. Such organizations developed further in the form of Gram Nyayalayas and Fast Track courts. Every solution comes with its problems. These methods can only be effective if they are themselves free of their detriments.
Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR)
Alternative Dispute Resolution methods have gained popularity in the world. People have started to opt for methods functioning outside the courts for the settlement of disputes. This has in a way impacted courts by obliviating from unnecessary devotion to the cases. Arbitration, mediation, conciliation, negotiation are some of the common methods under ADR.
The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 has brought to India these methods in a more defined manner. However, one unanswered question is still there in front of us. Do these methods have the capacity to replace courts? Are they equally efficient means of resolving doubts? The world is actively developing with these methods. India, if goes parallelly with the development pace, the ADR methods can significantly reduce the burden from the courts up to an extent.
Where Covid forced a major shift of courts to online platforms, the bleak idea of e-courts turned into reality. It did raise the question if e-courts can somewhat boost the process. India looks forward to its ambitious mission of full-fledged functioning via e-courts. This potentially looks like a way for curbing the pendency of cases, it does have its predicaments. E-courts need to overcome the problems of insufficient equipment and infrastructure. They need to find solutions to their problems to become a plausible solution for the issue.
Judiciary has a very supreme role in protecting law and order. Its proper functioning can only ensure the supremacy of law and the peaceful existence of the citizens. The current situation of the court is not inviting for the people. It can be seen that people are highly reluctant to approach courts for disputes. In any functioning democracy, this is against the basic doctrines of the concept.
There is another adage commonly quoted, Justice hurried is justice buried. The nation demanding the increased pace of the judiciary does not call for inefficiency. Courts are expected to follow the procedures established by law. The real solution to this problem lies in making ground-level reforms in the aspect of the implementation. If the appointment system properly engages jobless lawyers in right place, eligible judges are placed in vacancies, a lot can be improved.