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[ written around 2002; no major change in content or in Courts]
2002 News: "At the present rate, it would take just 200 years to clear the pending cases in courts in India. " - that was a recent news item.
Lok Adlats introduced by Justice Bhagwati more than 25 years back, still works and have to work. That is a continuing, constant certificate about the slow dispensation of Justice by the Regular Courts
Can we minimise the delay by 30% to start with?
Simple Productivity Improvement Exercise
If the Indian Courts work for 300 days in a year, instead of 200 days in a year,
all cases can be solved in 133 years. We can save 67 years with the additional working days.
We are still following the pre 1947 British practice of working like Schools with multiple vacations and holidays - it just means 100 extra working days in a year.
The Courts advise all others on all matters. Why not for a change look inwards too?
Is further reduction of the backlog by another 73 years possible ?
In 55% of the cases, Government is the litigant. Did not Lincoln shout in Gettysburg, 'government of the people'. All Countries mouth that in their preambles / constitutions.
Let all routine cases involving Government departments, be removed from the Courts and be dealt with 'Lok Adalat' or people's court, with members of the public forming the jury or inducted as judges. Did not M.C. Chagla prove to be a good judge though he had no legal / law background ? Not all cases involve judicious and laboured intrepretations of law but simple common sense or just simple analysis
We can save further 73 years and left with only 62 years backlog. We can put 2 special conditions so that the cases do not pile up.
If a case is not settled within 3 years, the benefit of doubt should be given to the other party and not the government
This provision will make the Government run for justice in time and not like now, when you and I have to pray for Justice in our grandson's life span.
The Government employee, who initiated the case, in case of defeat, be paraded from the Courts' premises to his residence in a reverse march. If a citizen can be paraded, why not a civil servant ? 3 parades and one demotion - fair enough
Why not the Stick, when the guaranteed employment for life, does not make them work a bit more efficiently ?
Work Ethics - Shallow now
The left out 62 years / backlog can be further shortened to say 30 years overnight, with one simple step. If you go to any court, you will realise that the
Courts normally function between 11 to 2, closes for one hour lunch break and only some courts work in the afternoon between 2.30 to 1630 hours.
The court works on an average for just 4 hours a day. You can go to any City court and check.
The respectful Judges / Courts be asked to work for 8 hours a day, like other ordinary mortals. And they can have 45 minutes lunch break ! They play God while on the pulpit. Let them know clearly that they are ordinary mortals like others
These Judges, we know, set the parameters for anything under the Sun, when they give weighty judgements. So let them first decide the meaningful parameters for themselves to help the public.
Why not ? With longer hours, you will grant that the backlog can be brought down to 30 years.
Keep Judgements short, simple and sensible
The Lawyers and the Judges thrust upon the people the Latin and Greek words, which they want to exhibit or want the people 'to know that they know a few words in Latin and Greek too'.
suo moto, sine die, and similar terms or using words loosely, which they do not mean like The honourable Judge, able / Learned / lawyer friend, etc - as per my knowledge from Hindi films [Are not the witnesses / accused / Public is sworn to speak the Truth in the Courts.]
If one cuts out the unwanted, repetitive and meaningless phrases, in Courts, petitions or lengthy judgements [as if they are authors and poets in the making] and stick to plain English, the paper work can be shortened by at least 75 %. The backlog has now been shortened to 8 years. Did you spot that ?
[Once a senior lawyer drafted for me a Civil Courts petition. One Sentence was just 3 pages long. But for the full stop, the rest was high sounding words from a book, duly typed in triple space, by one of the specialised typists in Courts. When questioned, he clarified that such additions are done to make up volume/weight and giving a touch of academic / due scrutiny of legal phrases / books. He added further that judges hardly study the case. They have to be briefed on the day of hearing before the courts start]
Any Civil petition is 10 pages long - typed in triple space as when hand writing was allowed and space was needed to make some notes. Secondly, there is 3 inches / 8 cms left margin. Why waste that much paper?
Adding further to the mockery is that the same petition has to be retyped with some sentences changed in the first and last page and has to be named 'Affidavit '.
For a fixed, notional extra sum, [Rs 40 in October 2005] the unknown notary would readily certify your 'identity' and the assistant will smear the page with 3 to 4 rubber stamps.]
Did not anyone think or say anything about these things? Certainly not. Everyone takes it easy at others cost
Follow the Fashion World
Here we can take a lesson from TV. Did I not say that we can learn a lot from the TV too in the last issue. The beauty queen contest, recently shown on TV, say one thing clearly
"You can cover a bit and yet uncover a lot"
If all petitions and judgements have to be of maximum 5000 words, the workload will come down further 60%. You can uncover the rest, when the case comes up in the court. The vital statistics / relevant facts should only be covered in the petition / judgement.
For a moment, think of the possiblity of every judge being given a computer and a printer and be asked to type the judgements themselves in 5000 words! The judgements will be precise, understandable in layman's terms and would not exceed 8 pages, in most cases, even with double space. Paper usage would come down and the forest wood can last a bit longer. Why not?
I am making this suggestion under the assumption that 'Gyanpeeth Award for Literacy' is not awarded to judgements or to lawyers for stretching a case in writing also to monotonous lengths. Some do try is my feeling
Perhaps, we will be left with just 2 years backlog.
Weed out irrelevant nonsense - save the forest cover - legal papers and legal currency
Why should legal documents be typed in triple space as in 19th Century still ? Why should there be over 1.5 inches / 4 cms margin on the left ?
If, say A levels 10 charges against B, out of which 5 are baseless and unsupported or even irrelevant, still the legal procedure, as conveyed to me by a lawyer friend, is that 'the irrelevant nonsense has to be repeated in the defense and refuted. It only adds to extra paper use, typing, expenses and time.
Why not give a one sentence reply that points 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 are without any basis, supportive evidence and are refuted. And for levelling such baseless and stupid, unsupported charges, they be fined Rs 1000 for each such frivolous claims ? Like the Labour union purposely putting up 21 demands to get the desired 12, in all cases they add unwanted garbage. It continues without any thought or any reprimand.
There should be monetary punishments for false and baseless allegations
Justice delayed is Justice denied
Now I am stumped and do not have any further suggestion. Everyone has to have a living. Let them have that much load. I do have lawyer friends. But if you want me to make one last effort before I close,
Just shift the Lok Adalat Judges to the Regular Courts - problem solved.
They may even settle 500 cases per day, if one goes by the newspaper reports of the cases that they solve in a day. The Backlog will vanish in no time.
Consumerism will reign and it is possible the Court Personnel will advertise for Cases in their Courts, promising speedy justice !
WHY NOT ? Rash Justice and other holy terms ? Forget it.
Let Truth permeate
If there be one place where maximum lies are uttered shamelessly, it can only be in Courts.
Witnesses are sworn to speak the Truth. Lawyers can speak umpteen lies to get 'their client out'. Why this open anomaly? They should get justice for their clients with facts and truth and not on the basis of 'lies'.
Or is there any alternate approach? Certainly yes
The court charges stamp duty and fees for accepting the case - inherent in that charge is the acceptance that they would attend to it in time. We do not pay 10% for a plane ticket, Car, cycle, medicine, water, food [for a basic need item, a comfort or a luxury item] if it will be delivered after 20 or 200 years.
When the Court fails to deliver justice in time / in 3 years., it should pay back the stamp duty and other levies, along with with interest, at 12% per annum. There should be 1% extra penal charges, for every year of further delay.
We can make our great grandsons and granddaughters, Millionaires ! WHY NOT ?
Justice is one of the pillars of the Democracy. So we all shout. Does its utility value is the same today, compared to 1947? I do not know
This page: My earlier private newsletter: Why Not: No 2: 28th January 2002: slightly edited
|Errors and Omissions exempted. If there be any unwanted oversights, mistake in content or suggestions for improvements, kindly let me know|
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|Personal website of R. Ranganathan M.Sc., [ MBA - IIMA] Main / original content: around 2000: last minor modification: May 7, 2017|