Advocates say the procedures are ancient and need an immediate update in order to keep courts running.
Bengaluru: “Vacancies exist not only for judges but also for the administration staff,” said Leah Verghese from Daksh NGO, a civil society organisation that undertakes research and activities to promote accountability and better governance in India.
Leah further adds that the judges have so much on their plates that an excessive amount of paperwork delays judgment. “Paperwork can be done by others and judges can focus on hearings and judgment,” she said.
On the other than advocates say there is a need to revamp the system altogether. “There is an immediate need to make changes in the procedural law of the Indian judiciary,” said Advocate Abhi Ram, a practicing lawyer for 15 years in Karnataka Civil Court. The National Judiciary Data Grid reads that Karnataka High Court has more than 17.5 lakh pending cases.
Around 35 percent of these cases were filed in the last three years way before the pandemic hit. India Justice Report 2020, shows that under-trial cases in Karnataka increased from 101 percent in 2019 to 108 percent in 2020.
Amit Sinha, Bar Council Secretary, Jharkhand said the delayed justice is because,“The procedures take much more time than needed. The pendency of cases is not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of the delay emerges from the trial courts. Many lawyers try and find loopholes in the judgment and the correction of these takes years, to dispose of cases.”
The Karnataka High Court currently has 46 sitting judges against the sanctioned strength of 62. There is a huge vacancy at the High court which leaves many cases unattended. Advocate Abhi Ram believes that “The solution is to appoint more judges at all court levels. There are already existing guidelines that certain cases need to be disposed between a period of three to six months, but no court follows the procedure.”
The state has around 91,000 criminal cases pending. The cause for pendency is due to delay in hearing or judgment, missing evidence, no argument from counsel. Sixty percent of criminal cases get piled up because the police department fails to either present the witness or evidence.
Advocates say that the police department is an important part of the criminal justice system. “The judiciary and police work in tandem in criminal cases. However, the police many times don’t act fairly. Some cases are quite small and can be settled out of courts but the police drag it through the long procedure,” added lawyer, Abhi Ram.
Leah Verghese added that the future of the Indian Judicial system lies in adopting a more hybrid form. “The future we are looking at needs a lot of work in terms of infrastructure and adapting to new forms of technology. New systems need to be introduced to fasten the process, giving training to staff and revamping the whole system is the way forward.”