JUDICIARY : CHALLENGES AND THE DREAMS OF LITIGANTS
Glancing at the history, we found that the towering leaders of our freedom moment and the galaxy of interactuals gathered to give our country a Constitution. The solemn document which 'we the people' gave us to ourselves provided and establish the high principle of equality, fraternity, liberty and brotherhood. The Constitution lead the edifice of legislature and executive and also provided separate entreaty of judiciary under Chapter IV Article 124 the Constitution established the Supreme Court and under Chapter VI, Article 214, the High Courts came into being and under Chapter VI, Article 223, the lower courts at the district and mofussil level were created. These courts of records had the great responsibility of providing justice to the teaming millions of the country who had awaken at the dawn of liberation of the country and who were hopeful of rapid transformation of the social and economic structure. The large sections of the Indian masses were hopeful that the courts will give them a life with dignity and justice. Decades after, a commission established by the Central Government and known as the Arjun Sengupta Commission has revealed the fact that 70% of the Indian households have a daily income of not more than Rs.20/- and more than half of the population of the country are half fed and semi naked. The children are mal nutritious. It was quite opposite to the dreams and aspirations of our forefathers and builders of the nation. It was visioned that the justice delivery system will be easy, accessible and cost friendly. There was an all India structure of courts system from the lower court to the Supreme Court. After passing of the three decades, our constitutional experts felt that the courts are not meeting out the requirement of the people and the balance between the need of the litigant and the justice delivery system is wavering and consequently, the arrears of cases started piling up. The problems were discussed and it was decided that some alternative forums may be created to do justice to the dreams of the Indian masses who freely want to knock the door of courts to get justice and under these circumstances, the 42nd amendment in the Constitution was done and a new chapter 15A was added in the Constitution and by the virtue of Article 323A and 323B, TRIBUNALS emerged from the horizon of the Indian Constitution and now it is signing at a 50 steps mansion. The Tribunals are not only a means of dignified livelihood to numerous law graduates but it is a source of delivering justice to huge number of litigants and aspirants.
Before scanning the problems and the challenges of the Tribunals, we must glance at the glides of the Supreme Court and High Courts. On the basis of the records which the government and the court system provides.
At the present time, there are more than 14000 posts of the judges in the entire country from Tehsil to New Delhi. 29 posts of justices in Supreme Court, 725 posts of justices in 21 High Courts and 14777 posts of judges in the Lower Courts are sanctioned. The present situation shows that out of 725 posts, 585 justices are at present working in High Courts and out of 14777 judges, 11139 are functioning in the lower courts. According to the records given by the Ministry of Law in 1999, the 21 High Courts of the country were disposing and deciding 9.80 lacs cases and in 2006, they started deciding 14.50 lacs cases per year and it may be said that the percentage of disposal increased to the tune of 50% but on the other hand wherein 1999, the rate of filing of cases per year was 11 lacs which sizably increased in 2006 to the tune of 16 lacs cases per year and resultantly wherein 1999, there was backlog of 27.5 lacs cases, in 2006 the arrears increased upto 36.5 lacs cases. After 2006, the situation further worsened and the rate of filing of cases increased from 1.27 crores to 1.56 crores upto year 2008 and now the entire arrears of cases pending before the Supreme Court and High Courts are about 2.48 crores which are kissing the dusts in the office of the Registry and waiting for their final funeral. At this juncture, we cannot keep out of sight, the glaring fact which propounded in the Advocates on records case by Supreme Court that the review of strength of judges must be made in Supreme Court and High Courts and the strength must be increased periodically but on the contrary, if we open the sight of Allahabad High Court, we will see that the sanctioned strength is 160 and the working strength is 70 in the second week of January 2011. I may be permitted to suggest that this is the right time when we must think that the strength of the members of the Tribunals should also be increased with added and elevated powers and the nature of work deputed to the Tribunal should also be widened.
We must also examine the attitude of the government towards judiciary through budget facility and infrastructure allocation. In the 8th five years plan (1992-1997), the entire judiciary of the country were given 110 crorer, in the 9th five years plan, a sum of Rs.385 crore was provided to the judiciary which was 0.07% of the entire 5th year plan budget of Rs.5,41,207 crores. In the 10th five years plan (2002-2007), the judiciary of the country was earmarked for Rs.700 crores which is only 0.078% of the entire plan budget of 8,93,183 crores. Does not it show that the legislature is trying to weaken the judiciary and to make it always staggering. The Government does not want to include judiciary in the planned development of the country.
The law commission's 120th report says (1987), there was a ratio of 10.5 judges on 10 lacs population which increased upto 12-13 judges on that population and this data gives a logic towards that if the requirement of increasing the number of judges is correct, then it is the high time that the restructuring of the Tribunals should also be done rapidly. On 31.01.1987 in its 120th report, the Law Commission aspired that there should be 107 judges in the population of 10 lacs people in country, the ratio which the United States of America already achieved in 1981. I hope that in the same ratio, the members of the Tribunals should also be increased.
At the present state of affair, to fulfill the dreams of the people and to provide justice to the litigant, it is the demand of the day that the arm of the Tribunals should not only be enlarged but it should be equally strengthened. It is the sorry state of affair that the Tribunals has still not attend the status of the court as provided in the Indian Constitution, Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code and this lacuna and weakness tried to minimize its strength. It is to be reviewed that the protection of Human Rights Act came into being in 1993 which not only gives power to Supreme Court and High Courts under Article 32 and 226 to deal with the cases of the human right violation but under section 30 Chapter VI of the Act, the power is conferred to a Session Court at district level to human right court and on the contrary, the Tribunals are denuded of these powers and at the golden jubilee functions, we must desire and demand that not only the other matters and disputes should be included in the power of the Tribunals to decide but the human right violation cases should also come in the purview of Tribunals.
There have been many alternative redressal forums envisaged and visioned by our law makers in the path of history of judicial reforms. In 1982 Lok Adalats were formed and from 1982 to 2000, 13761 Lok Adalats were performed in the country which decided 57,38,000 cases. Likewise there are arbitration, Nyay Panchayat, Mediation and Reconciliation Centres spread throughout the country as an alternative forums to decide the cases and to minimize the arrears but it is not giving the satisfactory results and this is the high time when we must consider the recommendation of the parliamentary sub committee which amended the certain provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act in 1994 and 2002 that the Tribunals are the wheels whereby we may take forward the journey of justice towards a happy end. It is a accepted fact that million of money are being used and wasted to create new forums of justice delivery mechanism whereas our Tribunals are not being provided enough budged to spread its infrastructure where our Advocates can sit, study, make counseling and prepare briefs. It is the time when the system of modern technology with a high sensitive data base should be introduced in the premises of the Tribunals and a e-library should be established in all the Tribunals so that we can go through the judgments and the orders day to day wise which are being given in the different Tribunals of the country. It is the time when we can demand that the Hon'bles who are delivering justice in Tribunals should not be named as only Member but they should be given the name of judges and justices with the similar power and privileges.
Agriculturist and Inventor