CAMPAIGN FOR JUDICIAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND REFORM
6/6 Basement, Jangpura B, NEW DELHI-1100014
email@example.com , www.judicialreforms.org
Patrons:Late JusticeV.R. Krishna Iyer,Justice P.B.Sawant, Justice H. Suresh, Shri Shanti Bhushan,Shri K.G. Kannabiran,Shri Ajit
Bhattacharjea,Prof. B.B.Pande, Admiral R.H. Tahiliani, Dr. BhaskarRao, Ms. Arundhati Roy, Dr.Banwari Lal Sharma, Shri Pradip
Prabhu, Prof BabuMathew, Dr Baba Adhav, Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, Shri Mihir Desai, Shri Manoj Mitta
WorkingCommittee: Prashant Bhushan, VenkateshSundaram, InduPrakash Singh, Nikhil Dey, D. Leena,Devvrat, Rohit Kumar Singh,
Cheryl D’Souza, PranavSachdeva
CJAR Annual Convention 2015
21st and 22nd November
Indian Social Institute, Delhi
A JUDICIARY FOR COMMON PEOPLE: ACCESS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND
If one were to ask the question, how many people get justice through the judicial system in
India, the honest answer would probably be less than 1%. The judicial system is so formal
and technical that a common person cannot access it without the help of lawyers. Not more
than 20% people in the country can afford lawyers. 78% (according to the Arjun Sengupta
Committee report) who live on less than Rs 20 per day obviously cannot afford lawyers. Even
those who can access the judiciary through lawyers are usually frustrated by the long,
laborious and expensive process which takes decades to conclude, during which the litigant
gets exhausted- physically and financially. Those lucky few who can get their cases heard
relatively quickly are often faced by incompetent or corrupt judges who man the judiciary.
Thus, those who finally manage to get justice from the system are probably less than 1% of
the population. The problem is that the judicial system in India was set up by the British for
their own ends (punish the ‘criminal’ natives of this country and for inter-se disputes between
the British gentry residing here). It was not designed as an instrument of justice for the people
of this country.
Thus, for effective judicial reforms i.e. to have a judicial system which functions as an
effective instrument of justice for the people, we need to re-think and re-design the judicial
system. For this we need courts/ dispute resolution forums which can be accessed even by the
poor and can quickly decide disputes without unnecessary formality. To ensure the integrity
and impartiality of such courts, the appointment of judges and their functioning must be
transparent and they must be accountable to the people through credible independent bodies.
The Gram Nyalayas were supposed to be such informal forums established at block levels
and functioning without lawyers. Unfortunately the final Act brought all the formalities of
civil and criminal procedure codes etc which would require lawyers. Moreover even these
have not been established in most parts of the country till date. The existing courts are too
few to deal with the volume of cases and many of them lack adequate infrastructure.
The system of appointment of judges is severely flawed and is leading to nepotism and
corruption. Even the NJAC would not solve this problem but would also compromise the
independence of the judiciary. Moreover, there is no accountability of higher judiciary
(Supreme Court and High Courts) and the lower judiciary is made accountable to the High
Courts who themselves have no accountability.
The time has come to rethink the whole system of appointments by providing a transparent,
methodical and objective system of selection through a full-time selection committee.
Similarly, it has become imperative to have bodies which are accountable, independent of the
government as well as the judiciary and can transparently deal with complaints against
judges. The post-retirement jobs of the judges which are often compromising their
independence should also be in the hands of the independent body which appoints judges. All
the instruments like videography of courts etc. ought to be made available to the general
There needs to be a serious discussion as to how the judicial system can be fashioned to make
it an instrument to serve justice to the common people. The time has come to think of judicial
reforms from the bottom up and effectively redesign the judicial system of this country. This
convention is an attempt in this direction.
To discuss all the above issues and also to see how a movement for judicial reforms led by
the people who are the real stakeholders in a proper judicial system could be created, the
campaign for judicial accountability and reforms has organised a convention at the Indian
Social Institute on the 21st and 22nd November (9:30 am to 5:30pm).
The convention would host the first Justice Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture. This lecture
would be delivered by Justice G S Singhvi, former Judge of the Supreme Court, the author of
many landmark judgments including the one cancelling 2G spectrum allocation. Justice
Singhvi will deliver the lecture on the ‘Judicial response to the marginalized’.
The convention would also include discussions on the issues of criminal justice, right to
information, environment, corruption and civil liberties, and the response of the judiciary to
these issues and cases. Several senior advocates, jurists, accountability activists and
researchers would participate in the discussions.