Judicial Reforms - My Take23 Oct 2011
I was going through a post of my friend Shailendra. And I tried to put few suggestions. While commenting there, I realized that I wrote enough that it can be transformed into a post. So here are my suggestions:-
1. Judiciary takes lot of holidays. For eg Jabalpur High Court will take 88 holidays in 2011. 52 Sundays, 12 Saturdays, summer holidays from May 23 to June 17, winter holidays from 26 December to 31 December and other festival holidays. Sometimes I think is our Judiciary running a school? When there are so many pending cases, I do not find any justification for so many holidays. These should be curtailed. If you want to know holidays that Supreme Court of India takes click here.
2. Many a times it has been observed that judges are not punctual and sometimes lawyers come late. This should be strictly handled and stringent action should be taken against the erring judges and/or lawyers. This will help in ensuring that court’s time is utilized well.
3. The time required to complete a particular kind of case should be pre-defined and it should only be extended on reasonable reasons. Judges must ensure that trial follows the time limits. Also, there should be time limit for a particular hearing of a case, say 1 hour in each hearing.
4. There are many cases which have a similar point or are of similar nature. They should be clubbed and a single judgement can be used for them. Similar recommendations as far as I remember was made by some Law Commission also.
5. Old cases like the one you mentioned should be separated from the rest of the cases and should get prioritized handling or could be assigned to special tribunal to decide the matter without any in-court hearing unless absolutely necessary.
6. Since judiciary doesn’t have much time arguments in courts should not be prolonged and until and unless absolutely necessary oral argument should not happen. In place of that written legal notes and arguments can be submitted to the court. The judge should be empowered to decide which cases are of absolute importance and should then allow the oral arguments. Cases like interpretation of Constitution can be regarded in this category.
7. Laws should written in very clear and specific manner. “Notwithstanding anything detailed herein and blah blah…” only adds to confusion and creates loop-holes. The existing laws should be written so that a lay man could interpret it. It will reduce the number of cases that reach the court and get involved in the cycle of interpretations and counter-interpretations.
8. Most of the cases filed under civil code can be transferred to tribunals and should reach courts in case of question of interpretation or as appeals.
9. Similarly, judgements should also be clear and should not leave any questions of interpretations.
10. Bars should be severely warned against going on strikes during the working hours and days of the courts.
11. Latest technology can be of great help for the courts. Use of video conferencing, etc can help the time of court while waiting for government officials, MPs, MLAs, ministers and others to come and give witness which most of the time leads to adjournments. This way even if they are ill they can take time out to be present for an hour for the hearing as I above mentioned time of a hearing should also be reduced to say 1 hour in my point 3 above.
12. Information Technology can be used to prepare a database to store cases, judgements, etc and can be used for immediate help in cases which look similar to a previous case which was solved. A good reporting tool can immensely help in this. IT if used intelligently can create wonders for the improving the productivity and efficiency of the cases.