The Brittle Middle 

News: Recently, the Supreme Court found serious fault within the high courts. The High Courts have consistently failed to uphold judicial discipline while pronouncing orders.  

What are the recent instances in which the HCs have failed to uphold judicial discipline? 

A Rajasthan high court bench granted bail to an accused of raping his minor niece without specifying any reasons. Here, the HC ignored circumstances like the alleged rapist was a history sheeter. He was facing around 20 other criminal cases. The SC witnessed a lot of gaps between the operative order and reasoned judgment given by the High Courts.

The Allahabad HC bench, a Bombay HC bench and a Delhi HC bench ordered acquittal in murder case(s) and gave the reasoned judgment(s) later after five months, nine months and ten months respectively.   

What are the issues in Indian Judiciary? 

There has been poor quality of justice delivery at various levels. 

Meanwhile, collegiums are struggling to attract good candidates to HCs. This is due to power struggle with GoI and unrealistic service conditions like low retirement age of 62. 

What are the steps that needs to be taken?

High courts are invested with the all-important function of superintendence of around 20,000 subordinate judicial officers. Therefore, they should set their standards at a higher level. 

Judges carry the burden that “justice is not only done; justice is also seen to be done”. 

The courts should promptly give a reasoned order. It also helps appellate courts save judicial time and decide appeals faster.  

The prompt reasoned order reduces burden on the judiciary. For example, The Supreme Court ordered fresh hearing in a case in which the Allahabad HCs failed to give a prompt reasoned order. It would add to pending criminal appeals. 

Effort should be made to establish a revised form of the National Judicial Appointments Commission to replace the collegium system.  

All India Judicial Services or a national district judges recruitment examination should be created.  

Way forward

It should be understood that “Dysfunctionality in the rule of law is a dysfunctionality that affects all aspects of governance”. 

Source: The post is based on an article “The Brittle Middle” published in the Times of India on 22nd April 2022. 

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