India’s crushing court backlogs, out-of-the box reform

SouIndia’s crushing court backlogs, out-of-the box reform– The post is based on the article “India’s crushing court backlogs, out-of-the box reform” published in The Hindu on 19th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Judiciary

Relevance– Reforms in judicial process

News– The article explains the steps needed to overcome the challenge of delays in justice delivery system

What is the way forward to overcome delays in the justice delivery system?

Empoy retired judges– A large number of experienced and fine judges are retiring from the High Courts because they have reached the age of 62. All that needs to be done is to continue them with pay and perquisites.

There is a need to bring back retired Supreme Court judges to hear admission of Special Leave Petitions. These are appeals filed in hundreds every week against all kinds of orders of lower courts and tribunals across. They take away half the time of the country’s senior most judges in just reading these mountainous files .

Working hours and schedules can be flexibly designed for retired judges to operate. This will enable the current judges to take up important cases in adequate Bench strength and composition. There can be a scheme by which experienced High Court senior advocates sit as judges once a week to hear matters from another State High Court.

Strengthen online justice– There is a need to cultivate online justice. The courts responded COVID-19 shutdown by harnessing online facilities. Judges and lawyers were quite well-versed in this new medium and welcomed its ease and flexibility. Unfortunately, we have gone back to the old days of only physical hearings in crowded courtrooms.

Enabling ad hoc judges to work online from home with minimum support staff is an excellent harness of human and technology resources. It will enable a vast number of cases to be disposed of.

Use of mediation– There is a need to employ mediation. As a method of dispute resolution, it is far superior to litigation. It covers a wide range, from personal and matrimonial to civil and commercial and property disputes.

India has a good track record in this process. In less than 20 years it has firmly established itself in the court annexed mediation schemes. Most mediation centres have a success rate of over 50%. It costs much less, takes a fraction of the time litigation does, brings about settlements which all sides can agree to. It eliminates appeals and is easy to enforce.

There is a need to make it a professionally attractive career option for mediators. An Indian Mediation Service can be created on the lines of the judicial service. Incentives and disincentives must be devised for existing and prospective litigants to try this consensual method in good faith.

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