As of the last quarter of 2013, there were over three crore cases pending across India’s various levels of Courts. Currently, the numbers have swollen to unmanageable levels. Many are languishing in the jails of India, with some even on death row, waiting for the final verdict on their fate. The increase in the number of cases is more critical at the higher levels – Supreme Court and the High Court – compared to district and subordinate courts.
Supreme Court judge, Justice JS Khehar, having gone through the pressures of the Indian justice system, says it’s ‘killing’ to work as a judge for 7-8 years at the highest level. It’s a remark based on his challenging experience, and the burn-out effects of such a stressful job… If this is how it continues, the cases will keep piling up without any delivery of justice. Result? Total collapse!
Indian courts are able to resolve only 3% of the cases that are filed. Where is the efficiency? In a country where there are not even 50 judges per million people, this is only natural. No wonder, then, that Justice Khehar finds 20 years too tough for judgeship, and why “they have to stop somewhere”. India doesn’t follow a uniform civil code, which adds to the blunders happening in the courtrooms.
“There are different religions in India and we are acquainted with different customs and processes attached with these religions. The trials being different for different religions are one of the reasons why there are backlogs.” The situation will worsen if this continues, leading to final collapse of the justice system.
With the Government now hell-bent on having a say in the appointment of judges through the National Judicial Appointments Commission, justice Khehar believes it will only take the system down, and raise question marks on its credibility. “The government now wants to interfere with the appointment of judges which I think will not do any good for the judicial set up. We have been following collegiums system for past 22 years, but if political parties start to participate in this procedure, there will be chaos”.
Narendra Modi is a very powerful Prime Minister. Unless he takes the matter in his own hands and decides to drop the idea, things will continue to fester.