Source: The post is based on an article “10 steps to make quasi-judicial courts work for the people” published in The Indian Express on 21st November 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance
Relevance: measures required to improve quasi-judicial agencies.
News: There is a class of quasi-judicial agencies that are generally handled by the revenue authorities and are largely relate to land, tenancy, excise, or preventive functions under the Criminal Procedure Code.
These agencies are important but they face many issues.
What are the issues faced by quasi-judicial agencies?
Work overload: These quasi-judicial agencies are staffed by revenue authorities who have several other functions such as law and order, coordination and other administrative functions which leaves them with much less time for court work.
Understaffed: Many of the agencies are understaffed.
Lack of electronic platform: These agencies do not have computers and video recorders or supporting activities such as the filing of cases and sending summons. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are only some of the states that have these facilities.
Lack of knowledge: Many presiding officers lack proper knowledge of law and procedures.
Harassment of citizens: Due to the workload and understaffing, speedy justice is not made which harasses citizens.
Lack of adequate supervision: These agencies are not properly supervised by the administrative and political leadership. This leads to inadequate data on the pendency of the cases which becomes the reason for understaffing.
Therefore, there is a need to address these issues.
What is the way forward?
First, the proper functioning of these agencies should be the priority for the government.
Second, detailed data on the functioning of these agencies must be collected and published from time to time. It should be laid before the concerned legislature and the staff strength should be decided based on these data. It will ensure accountability.
Third, an electronic platform should be established to handle all subsidiary work related to the administration of justice. This would help in analysing the functioning of these bodies.
Fourth, annual inspections of the subordinate courts should be made mandatory by the superior authority. The training of presiding officers should be decided based on these inspections.
Fifth, interdisciplinary research on the functioning of these courts should be encouraged. This would identify the areas of improvement such as legal reforms or issue of clear guidelines.
Sixth, regular training and orientation of the adjudicating authorities should be taken up from time to time.
Seventh, the state index of performance of these quasi-judicial courts should be published. It would help those states lacking in the index to focus on the improvement of these agencies.
Eighth, important decisions, guidelines and directions could be compiled and published on the portal of the apex adjudicating forum such as the Board of Revenue. These would be helpful for lower-level agencies.
Ninth, proper training should be given to the officials handling judicial work in the revenue courts.
Tenth, reform proposed by the Law Commission for reform of the Civil Procedure Code along with other procedural reforms should be adopted by these adjudicating bodies.