Citizen’s Appeal - Ensuring expeditious and timely justice to all
New ways of providing fast and safe justice for all in India
1. Bhanu Prakash (Team coordinator)
2. Shwetha Naik
3. Shubham Poddar
4. Smruti Shah
5. Chethan Patel
Shree Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain College, Bangalore
- +91 9740792110
Indian Legal System
Indian law refers to the system of law which operates in India. It is largely based on English common law.
Various Acts introduced by the British are still in effect in modified form today. Much of contemporary Indian
law shows substantial European and American influence.
The Constitution of India is the supreme legal document of the country. There are various levels of judiciary
in India – different types of courts, each with varying powers depending on the tier and jurisdiction bestowed
upon them. They form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit,
with the Supreme court of India at the top, followed by High Courts of respective states with district judges
sitting in District courts and Magistrates of Second Class and Civil Judge (Junior Division) at the bottom. Courts
hear criminal and civil cases, including disputes between individuals and the government.
• Ancient India represented a distinct tradition of law.
• India had an historically independent school of legal theory and practice.
• The Arthashastra, dating from 400 BC, and the Manusmriti, from 100 AD, were influential treatises in India.
• Manu's central philosophy was tolerance and pluralism, and was cited across Southeast Asia.
• Equality before the law.
• Freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
• Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
• Freedom of speech and expression.
• Right to assembly peacefully without arms.
• Protection against deprivation of life and personal liberty.
• Freedom of conscience and the profession, practice and propagation of religion.
• To move freely through India, to reside and settle in any part of India.
Supreme Court (Central)
The Supreme Court of India
comprises the Chief Justice and
not more than 25 (30) other
Judges appointed by the
President of India.
High Court (State)
The High Courts are generally
the last court of regular appeal.
It has the power to supervise
the subordinate courts falling
within its territorial jurisdiction.
The High Courts are Courts of
District Court (District)
District Courts, empowered to
hear appeals from courts of
original civil jurisdiction besides
having original civil jurisdiction
(b) Sessions Court is courts of
criminal jurisdiction, having the
similar scope of powers
Lok Adalat (Village &
It roughly means "People's
court". India has had a long
history of resolving disputes
through the mediation of village
elders. The system of Lok
Adalats is an improvement and
is based on the principles
of Mahatma Gandhi.
Indian Judicial System
The judiciary is part of our democracy and all its implications must be imported into the judicial process. Once we accept the proposition that in
a democratic society the court system plays a crucial role in seeing that neither licence nor absolutism becomes dominant, the difficult tasks of
the court vividly stare us in the face. As Chief Justice Burger has noted: "A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of
ordered liberty for a free people and three things could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society: that people come to
believe that inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value; that people who have long been exploited in the smaller
transactions of daily life come to believe that courts cannot vindicate their legal rights from fraud and over-reaching; that people come to believe
the law - in the larger sense - cannot fulfil its primary function to protect them and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public
Constitution which mandates that the state shall secure that the operation of the legal system shall promote justice, on a basis of equal
opportunity and shall ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen. The Judiciary is bound to shape the processes
of the law to actualize the constitutional resolve to secure equal justice to all. A people who are illiterate by and large, indigent in no small
measure, feudal in their way of life, and tribal and backward in large numbers, need an unconventional cadre of jurists and judges, if equal justice
under the law is to be a reality. If there is breach, judicial power must offer effective shelter. Even if a legislation hurting or hampering the
backward sector is passed, the higher courts have to declare the statute void, if it be contra-constitutional. In sum, the judicial process, in its
functional fulfilment, must be at once a shield and sword in defending the have-nots when injustice afflicts them. And this must be possible even
if the humbler folk, directly aggrieved, are too weak to move the court on their own and a socially sensitive agency advocates the cause.
Securing justice - social, economic and political to all citizens is one of the key mandates of the Indian Constitution. This has been explicitly made
so in the Article 39-A of the Constitution that directs the State - to secure equal justice and free legal aid for the citizens. But the experiences of
last 57 years show that the State has failed squarely on addressing some very basic issues--quick and inexpensive justice and protecting the
rights of poor and the vulnerable. The justice delivery system is on the verge of collapse with more than 30 million cases clogging the system.
There are cases that take so much of time that even a generation is too short to get any type of redressed.
That it will take more than 300 years to clear the backlog of cases in Indian courts is proof enough that our criminal justice system is sick,
stagnant and in urgent need of a complete overhaul.
Time required to clear up all the pending cases in India.
working days of
3.5 lakhs cases
days of work.
3.65 lakhs cases
days of work.
Number of cases pending in HIGH
Cases pending in SUPREME
• More than 57,179 cases are
pending in SC.
• In which more than 41,035 are
five to ten years old.
• Total number of cases pending
in India is more than 3 crores
and it keeps increasing.
There are about 10,000 courts in India .Out of these, one Supreme Court, 21 High Courts, 3150 District Courts, 4861 Munsif and 1st class
Magistrate courts and 1964 2nd class Magistrate courts are there. Besides, there are many tribunals. There are 4.04 crores cases pending in
different district courts across the country while there is a backlog of 34 lacks cases in State High Courts. 1,66,77,657 criminal cases are pending
before Magisterial courts and 72,37,495 civil cases are pending in various subordinate courts. As many as 70 per cent of these cases are -
litigations from villagers. Again some of these cases are as long as 25 to 30 years old. The longer a case runs, the more expensive it becomes to
pursue. Within the High Courts, maximum number of cases are pending in Calcutta, Allahabad, Chennai, Mumbai and in Kerala High court. Out of
the pending cases in these High Courts, 88 per cent are civil cases and only 12 per cent are criminal cases. Maximum number of pending cases in
lower judiciary are in U.P., Gujarat, Maharashtra, M.P., W.B. and in Karnataka.
At present the country's 21 High Courts have a combined strength of 725 judges; but there are 128 vacancies left to fill up. The High courts are
handling an overwhelming 34,00,000 cases and the shortage of judges is only delaying the legal process.
Disposal of cases several committees were formed by the Government from time to time. In 1924 a committee was formed under the
chairmanship of Justice Rankin. In 1949 Justice S.R. Das Committee, in 1972 Justice J.C. Shaha committee, in 1986 Satish Chandra Committee and
in 1990 Justice V.S. Mallimath committee. But the situation has not so changed from 1926 to 2007. The law commission in its 120th report
submitted in 1987 -- examined the problem of understaffing of judiciary and recommended 50 judges per million of population instead of the
present number 10.5. The inadequate number of judges is a major reason behind delay in disposal of cases. Thus, the main cause of judicial
procrastination is not in the hand of judiciary but in the hand of executive and administrative wings. Justice R. P. Sethi in Anil Rai vs. State of Bihar,
Criminal appeal of 6th August, 2001], [observed that in a country like ours where people consider judges second only to God, effort should be
made to strengthen that belief of the common man. His Lordship was of the view that time has come for the judiciary to assert itself to preserve
its stature, respect and regard for the rule of law. He observed "for the fault of few", the glorious and glittering name of the judiciary cannot be
permitted to be made ugly6. Former Attorney General of India Mr Soli Sorabjee in a lecture at the Nehru Centre in London lamented the laws
delays and said the criminal justice system in India was on the verge of collapse on this reason. He also observed that, "Justice delayed will not
only be justice denied, it will be the Rule of law destroyed"7. More than 60 per cent of pending court cases in India are the result of -- "State"
action or inaction because some official of the central or State Government or agency has failed to act justly -- towards a citizen or a group of
citizen. Lately, Hon'ble Supreme Court has delivered guidelines for quick disposal of cases.
1. In the Uphaar case it is shocking that it took six years to establish that the 59 people died because of criminal negligence on the part of the
cinema management and the Delhi government. It was clear from day one that nobody would have died had the cinema followed safety
rules but because the wheels of Indian justice move at the pace of our national vehicle - the bullock cart - it took six years for justice to be
done. And, if the Ansal family and the guilty officials decide to appeal it could be many more years before justice is really done.
2. In Jessica Lal’s case the situation is even more tragic because justice may never be done. She was shot dead in a Delhi bar in full view of
several people. It was on the basis of their statements that the police built their case against Manu Sharma and he, himself, fled the crime
scene and remained on the run for days, something he would have been unlikely to do had he been innocent. But, as time went by,
witnesses to the murder suddenly became unable to identify him as the killer so he is already out on bail and will probably remain free and
go on to a long and successful career as a politician.
3. In Safdar Hasmi murder case, for example, who was killed by political opponents, the criminals were punished after a long 15 years.
4. In Tanduri murder case, the accused a Delhi Congress Leader Susil Sarma was convicted with death sentence after long 8 years 6 months. He
murdered Nayna Sahani and destroyed evidence by burning her body within a Delhi based hotel.
5. In Model Jesica lal Murder case and Madhumita Sarma Murder case, accused persons were punished after a long legal battle.
6. The Supreme Court of India is not even immune to delays. It's much acclaimed -- judgment in the D.K. Basu case in 1996, known for its
directives aimed to prevent custodial torture, took ten years to be reached.
Some examples of delay of cases in India.
If a judgment takes this long time in the Supreme Court what can be expected from courts of lesser authority?
In a democracy, the courts belong not to the lawyers and judges but to the `citizen', as Jerome Frank wrote. Once we accept this democratic
dimension of the Judiciary, the rule of law gains a philosophical elevation. The highest is not above the law; the humblest is not beneath the law.
The true conception of the administration of justice is that the lowly concern of the least person is of the highest consideration to the state and
Justice delayed is justice denied, is an old but wise saying. Why has this delay happened and how this delay could be tackled are the questions of
hour? Who is/are responsible to this state of affairs is also not an irrelevant question?
On doing some practical and theoretical research at this problem, I found some reasons and their solution of this state of affairs. I would like to
discuss all the reasons one by one in order to their gravity and thereafter, would suggest some solutions to overcome these problems.
Major Causes of Delay
1. The first and the biggest problem is of the delay in disposition of cases : Due to huge pendency, the cases take years for its final
disposal, which would normally take few months time. The arrears cause delay and delay means negating the accessibility of justice in true
terms to the common man. The very core of a civil society and rule of law is the provision of justice, but the decision must be delivered
within a reasonable time. Only speedy justice could ensure effective maintenance of Law and order. Quality of justice not only promotes
peace in the society but also strengthens internal security of the country. There are number of litigations which could be avoided if Govt.
officials had taken interest, for e.g. section 80 of CPC require a prior notice of two months to Govt. by a party who wish to sue the Govt.
2. Strength of Judges are inadequate according to population and bunch of cases : As of January 2005, pending cases in the
Supreme Court number 30,000, in high courts over 33.79 lakh and in subordinate courts over 2.35 crore - a totally unacceptable situation.
Much of this is due to shortage of judges. The ratio of judges to population is 10.5 to one million, the lowest in the world. Even this low level
is not reached because of the accumulation of vacancies in the Benches -140 against the approved strength of 668 judges in high courts and
2000 against 15000 in subordinate courts.
3. The infrastructure of the lower courts is very disappointing : Though, the Supreme Court and High Courts are having good
infrastructure but this in not the same position with lower courts. The Courts have no convenient building or physical facilities. The executive
has failed to provide necessary infrastructure to enable judiciary and function normally. Good library, requisite furniture, sufficient staff and
reasonable space are the need of the qualitative justice. In some courts security systems is also not good.
4. Competency of the Other Staff in Court: It should also be kept in mind that not only Judges and Advocates be competent but also the
administrative and clerical staff. The clerical staff must be free from all type of corruption. This is the era of computerization. The highly
technical and competitive clerical staff will also help in speedy course. We all know how much time is taken in getting merely a copy of the
judgment? It is hard that money is used to speed up the process. The bribe giver does not wish, to get anything done unlawfully, but merely
wants to speed up the process of movement of files and communication relating to decision. Certain sections of staff concerned do work only
after taking money.
1. Endless amendment of laws is another reason behind delay : Most of Indian laws were amended time and again. As a result, it
takes time to understand and explain the new provisions of law. It kills valuable time of court. These endless amendments make the legal
system slow and confusing. Our propensity for enacting laws is really a problem. The Income Tax Act, for example, has been amended over
4000 times since it came into force in 1961. According to Late Mr. Nani A. Palkhivala, the tragedy of India is the tragedy of wastage of
national time, energy and manpower for grappling with torrential countless amendments.
2. Absence of work culture in the courts is another reason behind the delayed - justice : Every work of courts is carried out
very slowly. Attraction to the holidays makes the work of judiciary dilatory and procrastinating. Number of -- holidays, especially in higher
judiciary, are so vast that one can easily count the number of working days. This adds to the number of mountainous pending cases in the
3. Plea bargaining have to be stopped : Though, there is a way of reducing the time in justice. But criminals use this plea bargaining as
a tool to get out of the problem and then repeat the same thing with proper ideas, so that they don’t get caught this time.
4. Number of adjournments : As per the law, a court can adjourn the case up to 3 times, which leads in wastage of time. The adjourns
should be made to 2.
5. Scope of PIL should be made limited : PIL is a good way to fight against any injustice. But these days lawyer’s with no cases, file a PIL
and they waste time of court with no proper evidence and witness.
6. Involvement of politicians in any case should be avoided : Generally accused gets away from punishment, because of his
connections with politicians or VIP’s. And this leads to generate anger in victim, so he finds other sources to punish the accused. Like
bribing policemen, hiring local rowdies, etc.
7. Bail appeals to be avoided : Criminal’s usually apply for bail and they even get it. Then they go out and try to clear all the witnesses and
evidences against them. According to me, criminals have no right to live between normal people and in good society. So bail applications
should be ignored.
Minor causes of delay
5. Investigative agencies generally delay : It is generally heard that the accused gets bail as the investigating agency failed to submit
charge sheet within statutory period. The combination of several functions, such as crime investigation, riot control, intelligence gathering,
and security of VIPs by a single police force has a devastating effect on the criminal justice system. Nowadays, the crime investigation is not
immune from the partisan politics. The power of the government to drop criminal charges against the accused has further abused it. The
lethargic police investigation is also a ground of slow process of law.
Remedies To Overcome Delay
1. There is need to establish more courts and to increase number of judges according to population : While the population of
the country and the number of cases has increased manifold, the judgment services appears to be understaffed. Same is the position of the
courts, where number of courts are less in comparison to the need. As it is estimated that India has, only about II Judges per million
population, which is among the lowest ratios in the world. Obviously, there is an urgent need to increase the number of judges specially at
the local level for giving access to the ordinary people.
2. It is needed to establish a body at national level composed of Judges, Lawyers and Legal academics, which should be
charged with a duty to conduct examinations for recruitment to Indian Judicial Service (IJS) : Article 233 will have to be
amended to confer power on the president to appoint members of Indian Judicial Services on the recommendation of National Judicial
Service Commission. The creation of Indian Judicial Service is appeared necessary to get best available talent in the country.
3. There is urgently need to improve the basic infrastructure and management of resources: Modern technology and use of
computers could also increase the efficiency of the court system. The judiciary has also to learn management techniques through training
at all levels. Though, the Supreme Court and High Courts are having good infrastructure but this in not the same position with lower courts.
The lower courts are the basic institution of justice and to improve the quality of the justice dispensed with, it is necessary to improve their
infrastructure by modern technology. Lack of funds should not be allowed to enter in the way of development of infrastructure, as external
security is necessary, internal maintenance of law and order is also necessary for the internal security, national interest, peace and
progress. In general budget certain handsome amount could also be allocated to judiciary like defence and education or a separate judicial
budget should be placed, like railway budget. The panel of government lawyer should also be on merits not on the basis of nearness to
ministers. As the government is the largest litigant, more transparency is required on their part. Govt. counsel should be selected on the
basis of merit, efficiency, integrity, by some transparent manner. There should also be some permanent vigilance provision to observe the
working of the public prosecutors.
4. Our criminal justice system has the urgent requirement of Independent Investigative Agency : Delay in police investigation
is also one reason due to which cases linger on for years. It is, therefore, good to create an independent wing of police force, fully in charge
of crime investigation, and functioning under the direct control of independent prosecutors. That wing should be accountable to judiciary
and not to particular government of a time. The practice of torture and third degree methods, extra judicial execution in fake encounters
may be stopped also when crime investigation machinery became accountable to judiciary. Such type of police wing also became
knowledgeable about the type and method of the evidence needed. Hence, baseless cases, which lead acquittal, also could come down.
So, there should be co-ordination between police and prosecuting agencies. The early disposal of case also boosts the morals of police
force and will save time, which would have been taken in producing arrestee to the court Horn time to time.
6. The judges must set examples for themselves and others by maintaining a decent degree of punctuality
and dutifulness : However, hoping against hope, Hon'ble Supreme Court has already taken some steps to avoid law's delay. E-filing has
been introduced in the Supreme Court on 2nd October, 2006. It is now possible for any advocate - on -record or any other petitioner to file
his matter through internet from anywhere in the world. Computerization has been introduced in some of the High Courts in India. In this
era of globalization and rapid technological developments -- various avenues of laws are opening day by day.
7. The civil and criminal procedure codes and the laws of evidence have to be substantially revised to meet the
requirements of modem judicial administration : Though most of procedural laws are effective even today but some provision
needs revision, especially the civil laws. To lessen the burden of cases, we may introduce the concept of’ Plea-bargaining' by
decriminalization of those wrongs, which can justly be dealt with by compensatory remedies (Compensation to victim like in tort). The
institutions involved in justice delivery system such as the police, the prosecution, the court, prison etc.-requires to be reformed in terms of
organization, procedures, resources and accountability. So that, nowhere citizen feels uneasiness. There should be time limits prescribed
for adjudication. There should be uniform formats for the appeals and petitions to make the procedure easy. The judgment should be in
brevity and clarity. The concept like of public interest litigation is always welcoming, which is affordable to common men. Hence, there is a
lot of scope to improve the situation. For e.g. Section 301 Cr. P.c. should be amended to allow the victim to appoint a lawyer of his choice in
addition to public prosecutor to defend his case. Similarly, Section 3 13 (3) of Cr. P.C. also be amended so that the accused would be held
liable for refusal to give answer or telling lie. The victim will be allowed to cross-examine the accused to elucidate the truth. There must be
some fixed time for presentation of written statement, counter claim and reply like the plaint, under the I imitation Act.
8. Time limit has to be given : Judge’s should give a time limit to the prosecutor and defense lawyer to provide proper evidence and
witnesses. For ex – The court should strictly give a time (2 month’s maximum) for lawyer’s to come to court with evidence and witnesses.
That will help in solving the case early with justice. And during that time the accused shouldn’t be left out on bail. So that he doesn’t go
out and try to threaten the witness and alter the evidences.
9. Charge sheet time : The govt. should minimize the time of making charge sheet against criminal and present it before court. It should
be made to maximum to 1 month to 1.5 months.
We can conclude from the above discussion that we should not resort in extra-ordinary hurry-up of cases by whatever means. As justice delayed
is justice denied, similarly, the saying, justice hurried is justice buried is equally true. Therefore, sufficient, reasonable and due hearing of every
cases with consideration of its circumstances is the necessary requirement of natural justice and balance of convenience. In fact, the untiring
efforts put by fear and flavorless Indian Judiciary is doing commendable job of imparting justice inspite of so many difficulties, which created
faith of public in the rule. Of law is a great achievement, which really requires deep appreciation.
1. Litigation explosion.
2. Accumulation of first appeal.
3. Inordinate concentration of work in the hands of some members of the Bar.
4. Lack of punctuality among judges.
5. Granting of unnecessary adjournments.
6. Indiscriminate closure of Courts.
7. Indiscriminate resort to writ jurisdiction.
8. Inadequacy of classification and granting of cases.
9. Inordinate delay in the supply of certified copies of judgments and orders etc.
Basic remedies to overcome delay
"Backlog of cases causing concern : CJI." The Hindu, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007.
www.Supreme Court of India.nic.in
The Statesman, Kolkata edn.; 21st August, 2003
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