[Answered] “Increasing the number of courts as a recourse to deal with the mounting backlog is a short term solution which cannot remove systemic issues in Judiciary”. Comment.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How additional courts would not solve Judiciary issues?
Conclusion. Way forward and solution.

To deal with issues of pending cases fast track courts (FTCs) are set up in India for speedy trials in India. Fast track courts deal with speedy disposal or solution of cases to make the judiciary more effective and to avail justice as fast as possible. Although Fast track courts (FTCs) have dealt with disposal of cases on matters ranging from sexual offences, anti-corruption, riots, and cheque bouncing they are not long term solutions for various Judiciary issues.

How FTCs would not solve Judiciary issues:

  1. Slow Justice: It is seen that FTCs are slow and inefficient in working and providing justice. Since inception, close to around 39 lakh cases were transferred to the Fast track courts (FTCs) out of which, 6.5 lakh cases are still pending with Fast track courts (FTCs). Thus it is itself mired with inefficiencies leading to delay in justice.
  2. Technological constraints: Several FTCs lack technological resources to conduct audio and video recordings of the victims and many of them did not have regular staff. Thus without modernising Judiciary it is difficult to provide timely justice.
  3. Overburdened: Over the years, the number of cases allotted to them have increased, which has led to the burdening of these courts which in turn slow down the decision process, and compromised quality of judgements.
  4. Temporary in nature: Large sums of money and attention are being devoted to creating additional posts. These are temporary and little is being done to identify and address the prevalent systemic issues. Without fully optimising the current mechanisms and resolving the problems, sanctioning more judges may not provide the intended results.
  5. Infrastructure and resource constraints: Inadequate staff and IT infrastructure lead to delay in getting reports from the understaffed forensic science laboratories. Thus without addressing systemic issues and concerns FTCs would not help much.

What should be done?

  1. A commission should be established by Supreme Court to review the functioning of courts in a systematic and streamlined manner.
  2. Focus should be on capacity building and improving infrastructure. Therefore hiring of additional judges and new infrastructure, including courtrooms, technological facilities and libraries is the need of the hour. Also, as suggested by the Supreme Court, the ad-hoc judges and support staffs should be granted permanent appointments.
  3. A holistic approach for resolving Judiciary issues is required.
  4. The government needs to strengthen and demand accountability of the law-enforcing agencies in relation to how they deal with cases.
  5. There are reports of delayed FIRs, political pressures, intimidation of victims and a system that despite the legislative changes, continues to treat poor, marginalised victims with scant regard. Victim-centric procedures and measures, including compensation, is needed with adequate police reforms to speed up investigations and ease the judgements.

Thus there is need to correct the systemic inefficiencies and issues with focus on improving infrastructure and human resource. Vacancies of judges should be increased. An all india Judiciary examination can also be conducted on the lines of all india services with focus on judicial talent.

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