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Making judiciary an accountable and just institution

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Satish Tandon
Satish Tandonhttp://www.satishtandon.com
Professor at a reputed university, teaching English and economics, in Japan.

The perception of the courts and judiciary in India can vary widely depending on an individual’s personal experiences and views. However, many people view the courts and judiciary as an elitist institution that does not accurately reflect the realities of a democratic and developing country. There are concerns that the system does not sufficiently take into account India’s cultural and religious ethos, diversity of thought, and the significant socioeconomic divide between the rich and the poor. This raises the question of whether the judicial system has the capacity to understand and respond to the pain and aspirations of a young nation that seeks to establish a leadership role in a leaderless, globalized world.

To address these concerns, reforms are needed to make the judicial system more accessible, responsive, and representative of the diverse needs of society. The system must be reoriented to prioritize efficiency, reduce delays, and ensure the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. At the same time, there must be a concerted effort to build greater trust and confidence in the judicial system among the general public. By taking these steps, the judicial system can help fulfill the aspirations of a rapidly developing India, and establish itself as a critical pillar of democracy and justice in the country. Some of the fault lines are:

Slow and Overburdened: The Indian judiciary is often viewed as being slow and overburdened with a large backlog of cases, leading to long delays in the dispensation of justice.

Inefficient and Corrupt: There is a perception among the public that the courts and judiciary are inefficient and corrupt, with cases being influenced by money and power. Yours truly has had a personal experience of such high-level corruption in 2022 when 55L rupees was demanded of me by my lawyer in the name of a sitting Judge of the Delhi High Court. Of course I refused, and so the fight must go on. My case is a classic and common example of a senior citizen being exploited by the system.

Lack of Access to Justice: Many people feel that access to justice is limited, particularly for those who are economically or socially marginalized, due to the high cost of legal proceedings and the complexity of court procedures.

Insufficiently Independent: Some people feel that the independence of the judiciary is not always ensured and that the court system is prone to political interference.

Unresponsive to the Needs of a Changing Society: There is a perception among some that the legal system is outdated and unresponsive to the needs of a changing society, leading to difficulties in addressing new and emerging challenges.

These perceptions may not accurately reflect the overall state of the courts and judiciary in India, but they do indicate areas where reforms and improvements are needed to enhance the public’s confidence in the judicial system.

There are several steps that can be taken to reform the judicial system in India to make it more transparent, democratic, and responsive to the needs of a changing society:

Improving Access to Justice: Increasing the number of courts and judicial personnel, making court procedures less complicated and easier to understand, and utilizing technology to improve case management and increase access to legal information can all help to improve access to justice in India.

Strengthening the Independence of the Judiciary: Ensuring that the judiciary is free from political interference, that judges are appointed through a fair and transparent process, and that they enjoy adequate protection against removal from office will strengthen the independence of the judiciary and increase public trust in the judicial system.

Encouraging Alternative Dispute Resolution: Encouraging the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation and arbitration, can help to reduce the backlog of cases in the court system and increase access to justice for all.

Improving the Quality of Service Delivery: Providing training and development opportunities for judges, increasing the use of technology in the courtrooms, and establishing quality assurance mechanisms can all help to improve the quality of justice delivery in India.

Enhancing Transparency and Accountability: Increasing transparency in the court system, through measures such as making court proceedings more accessible to the public and publishing court decisions online, can help to increase accountability and public trust in the judicial system.

Modernizing the Legal Framework: Modernizing the legal framework to ensure that it reflects the needs of a changing society and is consistent with international human rights standards can help to make the judicial system more responsive to the needs of the people it serves.

These are some of the steps that can be taken to reform the judicial system in India to make it more transparent, democratic, and responsive to the needs of a changing society. However, reforms in the judicial system require sustained effort and commitment from all stakeholders, including the government, the judiciary, and civil society organizations.

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Satish Tandon
Satish Tandonhttp://www.satishtandon.com
Professor at a reputed university, teaching English and economics, in Japan.
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