Justice Thakur makes an emotional plea saying ‘If nothing has worked till now, I hope my emotional appeal does.’

Chief Justice of India, Justice Tirath Singh Thakur was addressing a joint conference of Chief Ministers, and Chief Justices of High Courts with Law Minister, D.V.Sadananda Gowda and Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on dais.

He made a heartfelt plea to the government to increase the number of judges. Justice Thakur pointed out that India was focusing on Make in India and Invest in India. Simultaneously, it is important to also increase the efficacy of judicial system as those who we are inviting are also concerned about the Indian judiciary’s ability to handle cases that come up during investments.

Justice Thakur lamented over the Government’s inaction even though the Law Commission had suggested in 1987 that the number of judges must be increased to 50 per million in order to address the increasing litigation cases. However, the suggestion has not been implemented. According to an estimate, there are 13-15 judges per million people in the country.

He said as India has added over 25 crore people to its population since 1987, the number of judges have remained the same. When Central Government is asked to address the issue, it says the State Government has to do the needful. The State Government states that nothing can be done unless the Central Government allocates the funds. In this tug of war, judiciary has lost out tremendously.

As he broke down, Justice Thakur pleaded the legislature to ‘rise to the occasion,’ as the entire burden of pending cases could not be shifted to the judiciary. He drew attention to the state of the poor litigants and the judges of the country and said that a joint effort was needed to improve the judiciary infrastructure for the development of the country.

Justice Thakur talks about the back log of cases and the categories of majority of the cases:

In his 35 minutes long speech, he said that a judge in India handles 2600 cases a year on an average. Whereas, 9 judges in the United States handle 81 cases on an average in a year.

India has the largest backlog of cases in the world and quite ironically, government is a litigant in almost half of the cases. Some of these cases are due to the civilians filing cases against the Centre or State Governments in matters such as labor or tax disputes. According to Justice Thakur, this is a consequence of poor governance.

Another category is where both parties belong to the State, either central or state level due to procedural or protocol matter, which could be resolved through internal arbitration.

Justice Thakur also expressed displeasure at the state of commercial courts in India. He said merely putting a board outside an existing trial court saying it is now a commercial court would not serve the purpose. There needs to be proper infrastructure and environment for it.

Narendra Modi’s unscheduled speech in response to Justice Thakur:

In response, Narendra Modi said that he understood Justice Thakur’s concern and would do his best to address the issue. He said, “if Thakur sahab is comfortable and there are no constitutional limitations”, he would want the government and the CJI’s team to sit together, discuss and find solutions to the problems. He added ‘I am not one of those who would listen and go. I will take it seriously and try to find solutions.’

He blamed the archaic laws, their loopholes and the various interpretations of provisions for the pending cases. A brief of what he said can be found here.

Conclusion on the plea made by Justice Thakur:

After the NJAC system was struck down, the collegium system recommended 170 names for the post of Judges. However, the Central Government is yet to clear the the same.

With the soap opera type communication between the executive and the judiciary, what is important is for the Central Government, State Governments, law ministers and judges to co-ordinate. To formalise an effective method of appointing deserving judges to fill up the dearth.

Conscious steps need to be taken to avoid the endless adjournments given in various cases and frivolous PILs need to be rejected straight away. Most certainly, number of judges need to be increased. However, the proceedings in the court should also be accelerated. Unreasonable delays, unjustifiable confinement of undertrials are reasons why we are facing an avalanche of pending cases. It is important to note most of these under trials are ‘poor litigants.’

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...