The diamond jubilee of the Supreme Court is an opportunity to reflect on the shortcomings of the Indian justice system and make it more agile, quick and easily accessible. This means ensuring that justice is accessible to all citizens, is easily accessible, free from complex procedures and is affordable. From this point of view, this opportunity full of unimaginable achievements is proving to give a new strength, new freshness and a new environment to the Indian justice process. Because till the time India reached the golden age of independence, India’s justice system remained entangled in many thorny bushes. If we analyze the Indian judicial system, we find that due to various reasons like shortage of judges, shortcomings in the judicial system and poor infrastructure, the number of cases pending in the courts is increasing, while on the other hand, the workload on the judges and judicial staff is increasing. going. Delay in justice is called injustice but this irony is rapidly engulfing the judicial system of the country.
In the function organized on the 75th anniversary of the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the steps taken by the government to make the judicial system effective, modern and technical. He stressed the need to change laws that have become irrelevant and make new laws as per modern expectations. As the Prime Minister himself mentioned, replacing the outdated colonial era laws with new laws like the Indian Civil Protection Code, the Indian Judicial Code and the Indian Evidence Act is a big step. Although these laws have not yet been implemented and the need to reconsider some aspects related to them is being felt, still the importance of this step cannot be underestimated. Other dignitaries present at the event included Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Supreme Court judges, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Attorney General Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Many lawyers were present here.
The first meeting of the Supreme Court was held on January 28, 1950. The justice system of the country is directed by the Supreme Court. Referring to this, Modi said that it is our job to ensure that access to justice reaches every corner and every citizen of this country. With this thinking in mind, the third phase of e-court was approved. In the Union Budget last year, the government had announced an allocation of Rs 7,000 crore for the third phase of the e-courts project – which is four times more than the previous allocation of Rs 1,670 crore. Modi government is providing all possible support for the modernization of India’s justice system. Certainly, while the government is modernizing the laws as per the current context, it is also ready to make resources and facilities available. New laws and new modern courts will further strengthen the India of tomorrow. They will play the most meaningful role in creating a new India and a strong India. The government is also committed to conduct the justice process in Hindi or local languages instead of English. Pointing towards accessibility of justice, Modi reiterated what he had said earlier that orders need to be given in simple language. He expressed satisfaction that translation of Supreme Court judgments into regional languages has started and expressed hope that other courts in the country will also follow suit.
On the increasing importance of technology, he said, “Today, this program is showing how technology can help in providing justice. My address is currently being translated with the help of artificial intelligence and being heard by people. There may be some hiccups in the beginning, but we can only imagine what great things the technology can do. Similarly, our courts can use technology to make the lives of our citizens easier.
It is important for the Supreme Court to work towards capacity building of other stakeholders. The government has started training and capacity building for government employees. Certainly a strong judiciary will serve as the foundation of a developed India. Modi stressed that the Jan Vishwas Bill is a step taken to reduce unnecessary burden on the judiciary. A strong judicial system is a part of a developed India. The government is continuously working and taking many decisions to create a trustworthy justice system. The Jan Vishwas Bill is a step in this direction. Under the leadership of the Supreme Court, a lot of emphasis has been laid on digitization in the judiciary for some time. In the same sequence, the third phase of the eCourts Mission has also been approved, in which the intention is to increase the use of technology in many other areas including digitization of court records.
There are some other very important aspects related to ‘Ease of Justice’ which need attention. The biggest issue is the cases pending in the courts. The number of pending cases will cross 5 crore in 2023. Of these, there are 1,69,000 cases which are pending in the High Courts and District Courts for more than 30 years. At present there are only 18 judges for every 10 lakh people. In such a situation, it cannot be justified to expect timely justice from any judiciary. As per the recommendation of the Law Commission, the number of these posts should be increased. The work of filling the vacant posts of judges in the Supreme Court has been done, but many posts are still lying vacant in the High Courts. According to the data available on the website of the Department of Justice, a total of 1,114 posts of judges are sanctioned in all the 25 High Courts of the country, but the current number of judges in these courts is 784, that is, 330 posts of judges are vacant in the High Courts.
Radical change in the justice system is necessary and expected to make it more effective. For this, it is also necessary that a time limit should be fixed for the resolution of special category cases and Lok Adalats and Gram Nyayalayas should be established. This will not only lead to a proportionate reduction in the number of pending cases but will also save valuable time of the judiciary. An All India Judicial Service may be created to attract the best available talent at the level of subordinate courts. This will improve the qualification and quality of judges. Judicial database can be created by efficient use of information and communication technology. Compliance with the code of conduct for advocates should be made effective so that cases are not deliberately delayed. Considering all the above mentioned things, it is clear that the Indian justice system needs reform at various levels. These reforms should not only come from outside the judiciary but also within the judiciary. So that the autonomy of the judiciary does not become a hindrance in implementing any kind of innovation. Delay in giving justice in the judicial system is a deviation from the principle of justice, hence justice should not only be done but should also be visible.
(The author is a senior journalist and columnist)