Delayed justice …

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“Justice delayed is justice denied”. But this saying, overused into a cliché, fails to change anything when it comes to practical delivery of justice. Had it not been so, certainly the situation as for the pendency of cases in the courts waiting final arbitration would not have been as mammoth as it is today. It goes without saying that while the basic purpose of the legal system is to deliver justice without delay, here the judicial scene is otherwise. Hundreds of thousands of cases are just lingering one without any worthwhile reason and with it are suffering all those people who are simply waiting for the courts to pronounce verdicts.

No doubt people here have faith in the judicial system but at the same time the delay in delivery of justice is telling upon their trust in the judiciary. Knowing that the cases will linger on for years, most people accept injustices as their fate and don’t dare to approach the courts for seeking justice. There are umpteenth examples wherein people approached the courts for seeking justice and the cases dragged on with no verdict even as the complainants breathed their last. This delay is detrimental for the overall concept of the justice. Worst victims of this delay and pendency are the poor and downtrodden. Seeking of justice has become a dearer commodity and only those who have lots of money can afford to hire able lawyers to get immediate justice. Although the Legal Aid Services is in operation and many people are getting benefited, but overall performance of this service too is not by any standard satisfactory. Here also the delay in justice is telling upon the justice system and the delivery is as pathetic as in other cases.

Few years back the concept of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) was also introduced here and a few mediation centres set up here and there. But this system suffers a basic and inherent lacuna. It seems to presume that the lawyers, who are trained in long-drawn legal battles, will nudge and push their clients towards out of the court settlements. This is not going to happen. As the common sense has it, lawyers see little incentive for them in ADR while as their economic well-being is directly linked to long drawn legal wrangles. So the concept has, if at all any, had only limited success. Indeed the system of ADR could work better if the courts themselves appoint trained mediators to broker truce between the disputing parties as happens elsewhere in the developed West where 70-80 percent cases are actually settled outside of courts with the help of court appointed mediators. Such is the success of this concept that world top-notch universities like Harward, for instance, offer courses in ADR.

One more thing plaguing our justice delivery system is corruption, although people usually avoid writing about it. Fact of the matter is that corruption is as rampant in judiciary as in other government wings. People hesitate to talk about it and media too has not concentrated on the issue the way it should have; reason being having no or little knowledge of people’s rights and lack of awareness about the overall judicial system. People are scared and they dare not to talk about the corruption in judiciary. There is a misconception that one can’t talk about judiciary as such talk could land one into trouble. These myths are to be broken and people should be made aware that they have every right to come forward with their experiences so that an efficient correction mechanism could be put in place for the judicial system, which unfortunately is dire need of corrections. Let those placed high-up on the judicial ladder begin this correction process by ensuring speedy justice. Once this is done, it will certainly trigger a chain-reaction of sorts wherein various shortcomings plaguing the system would be automatically taken care of. And obviously no individual or group will then be in a position to hold entire system hostage to their narrow and selfish politics, as is otherwise the case here.

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