NEED FOR A SPEEDY JUSTICE DELIVERY SYSTEM IN INDIA
– by Sushree Surekha Choudhury and Subham Mund
We are all well aware of the saying, “Justice delayed is Justice denied”. This has been becoming more than ever relevant with time. The right to get a speedy justice has been considered a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. The Constitution of India, under Article 21 states that, Right to life and personal liberty is a fundamental right and every citizen must be guaranteed this right. When a case is initiated against a person, the alleged offender is taken into judicial custody and when the case goes through trial, the alleged offender lives as a prisoner due to the circumstances of the case. But many of the times, this has been seen that, after spending years in prison, when the case is finally decided, the alleged person is found innocent! This is grave injustice to the innocent, who spent years of his life in prison, for a crime he never committed and this is a breach of his fundamental rights as well. The main and fundamental reason behind this mishap is due to the delayed procedures and justice that was delivered after a span of years.
There was always a need felt for a speedy justice system. Due to piles of cases in civil courts, the process have rather always been lengthier which is a potent threat to the principles of justice, equity and good conscience. The cases are too many, and consequently, the adjudicating bodies falls short of officers and courts to deliver justice.
Consequences of delayed justice:
- Innocent in prison, living the days of a prisoner for a crime he never committed.
- Sometimes it so becomes, that a case gets so prolonged that either of the parties die in the due process of trials and never meeting justice.
- Constant involvement in trial process consumes time, energy and drains a person’s finances.
- Prison violence is as a relevant problem that these people face.
- The prisoners including the innocent people starts suffering both physically and mentally and many a times dies in their prison cells as well.
- Not only does these innocents suffer, so do their families, whose lives are spoiled at the hands of time for absolutely no mistake of their own.
Causes of delay:
- False, vexatious claims, plaints and cases; take very much of the court’s time only to come to an conclusion that there was absolutely no reason behind it. The statistics show an increase in these, in the present times.
- Way too many cases are filed in courts on everyday basis and delivery of justice for the filed cases shows significantly lesser number.
- The main cause is there are too many cases and too less adjudicators and courts with jurisdiction to dispose them off.
- In our country, especially in the root levels, the advocates have been of a habit of extending time. They take this plea of extending time for every minor inconvenience, and this has become a major reason why the trials delay.
- There should be a proper distribution of cases among different jurisdictions.
- Jurisdiction should add another criteria, i.e., on the basis of the type of case. In addition to subject matter jurisdiction, different kinds of courts can be established to resolve different kinds of cases. When the cases in one court will become similar to each other, it will automatically lead to faster delivery of judgement (s) as quoting precedents will also become easier and swifter for the judges.
- Number of judges must be increased accordingly. More number of judges should be appointed which will help in diving the workload.When the workload will be divided from the shoulders of one to many, the work will certainly be done fast.
- There can be brought about changes in the judiciary examinations. It can be more oriented in appointment of more number of students by amending the qualifying criterion and cutoffs.
- Courts and judges must vary from state to state as per the needs and requirements of its population. There must be proportionality in order to dispose cases in the earliest possible time.
- ADR mechanism, the concept of Ombudsmen, lok adalaats, gram panchayats and specialized tribunals should be given greater scope and importance.
Relevant case laws:
Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar is a pioneering case with regards to speedy trial the facts of the case were such that the case was pending for a period of eleven years without the fault of both the parties that is the petitioner and the defendant. In this case the horn’ble Court observed that the prisoners were held captive longer than the period prescribed so the court opined that it would be unfair if they are kept in the jail any longer even if they are convicted by the court. The Court held that if there is unreasonable delay in a trail then the party may apply for bail under section 482 read with 483 of Cr.P.C.
Undue delay in disposing off a case is also a gross violation of article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is the obligation of the government to ensure that steps are taken to ensure speedy trial.
Karta Singh vs State of Punjab in this case too the court observed that right to speedy trial is an integral part of article 21 that is right to life and personal liberty.
Abdul Rahman Antulay v. R.S. Nayak the bench declared certain aspects and guidelines regarding the speedy trial and quashing of cases should depend upon nature of the case.
Fair trail is an essential part of any judicial system and speedy trial forms the core of fair trail. There is a long standing legal principle “justice delayed is justice denied” this basically means that justice must be delivered as quickly possible and delay in the delivery of justice is equivalent to injustice. Delay causes anguish among the parties and is detrimental to the faith of the people on the judiciary this intern has a very adverse effect on the democracy itself because it relies greatly on the judiciary to keep a check on the governmental powers.
In addition to that not every party is financially strong therefore it can be very challenging for the parties to sustain in case when the trial drags on for a extremely long period of time. Justice is said to be served when it is delivered in due period of time and it looses it value with there is delay. In India there are thousands of cases pending because of slow disposal rate despite the provisions favoring speedy trial.
Right to speedy trial is a part of fundamental right as stated in various judicial pronouncements. Although the term speedy justice has not been defined explicitly in the Constitution of India it is incorporated under Article 21.
Concluding, I would say, when necessary amendments are brought about in the judicial system of trials, disposing cases, and the way of handling them; only then shall we be able to say that ‘Justice’ has been delivered in its true sense. No trial can be conducted going against the Constitution of the land and for that matter, the fundamental rights. Only when measures are taken improving the causes of delay of rendering justice, will be when the nation will develop in its true sense and dynamics. Our India has always been known for its high morals and values. It has always been a home to whosoever visited it and have never refused to accept any person on the basis of any criterion of discrimination. It becomes in as much essential, so as to uphold this value system that people of this country always live a life of dignity, respect and freedom. We had already surrendered our freedom to others for years before we finally attained independence. And since that day of 1947, the country and its rulers have always upheld that freedom. As such, it becomes our primary duty that these values keep continuing and rather growing with time. There should never arise an instance where the freedom of even one citizen of our motherland be questioned. Judiciary, being the apex forum of justice, must always also ensure the values of liberty, freedom and uphold the values of our constitution. The system should become such that the people stop fearing trials and courts, rather, be assured that since their cases have reached the light of the judiciary, this light shall penetrate through the cracks of the walls and help them look forward to a guaranteed liberty and relief. People will start to feel safe in the hands of judiciary, their faith will enhance on the system and citizens who develop faith, a sense of equity and good conscience will be the reason of a brighter future ahead. With legislative amendments and efforts of harmony and compliance from all the people of the country, no objective shall be impossible to obtain.
Author: Sushree Surekha Choudhury and Subham Mund,
KIIT School of Law