Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a call to create a new India to reflect the strengths and attributes of modern times. His enthusiasm emanates from 3 years of a corruption free government under his leadership. Actually a New India was born on 15th August 1947.
In 1947 it was the impeccable integrity of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the large numbers of freedom fighters of the highest nationalism and an eagerness for making the supreme sacrifice for a New India. They did not seek privileges, perks, pay or pensions for themselves but wanted to develop the country as fast as circumstances permitted so as to serve the entire country.
Had the silly Pakistani Generals not impeded this march, the conditions in the region would have been different.
Then came a bigger set back when China plunged a dagger in to the back of a Nehru embracing the Chinese in a gesture of warm friendship between a communist nation and a socialist country.
India has thereafter lurched on the path of progress due to recurring decline in leadership.
It didn’t inspire honesty, sacrifice and service in the political, bureaucratic or business class.
Democracy was bartered away for cuts, commissions and rents.
It was the first decisive mandate of the people of India to provide an honest and clean government in India under Narendra Modi . Modi did not disappoint the people.
If he dreams of a New India, he is capable of delivering it.
While many initiatives need be taken to convert this resolve into a ground reality and shall be so taken, my dream of a New India revolves around dispensation of cost free and prompt justice in the country.
Today justice is awfully costly, delayed and compromised.
It is an old platitude that the common man has always prayed to God to save him from the court proceedings. It is a brilliant yet briefest critique of the failed dispensation of justice. It inhibits the victim from approaching the court because of the necessity to engage a lawyer, pay court fees, attend endless hearings in the courts and wait endlessly for the judgement.
Worst of it all, it may turn out to be the travesty of justice as the perpetrator might just get away as an honourable person because of lack of sufficient evidence or witnesses or proof and, if nothing else, get the benefit of doubt.
It is so frustrating for the victim or the family in criminal cases of murder, rape, arson etc.
The condition of civil suits is equally disappointing. These cases drag on for decades and yet the outcome is frustrating.
Actually, it is an organized activity of the lawyers-judges and other stake-holders, who together rob the litigant of his hard-earned money, making a pauper of him and even leaving him in huge debts to meet the cost of litigation.
Why should it happen? A few apparent reasons include lack of education in law of the judges and the lawyers, who draft badly, read badly and interpret badly.
The procedure demands a plaint followed by a counter by the opposite party followed by a rejoinder by the plaintiff and further additions to the file, which becomes so thick that it would be unreasonable to expect a judge to read such junk and make head or tail of it. It is no less tortuous than reading Finnegan’s Wake or Ulysses in one sitting or any standard law book in a day.
Why do we have to kill our judges with so much of muck?
It is only to make an impression on the hapless litigant who committed the sin of ever thinking of filing a case.
It is such a godsend opportunity for everybody associated with the exercise. Like in the Licence-quota-permit regime, where everybody who had the opportunity to touch a paper demanded money before the file could be pushed up, in a lawsuit payments need to be made to the lawyer, his clerk for typing and making case file in adequate numbers, court fees, dispatch to opposite party, corrections before the case is accepted by the registry, cost of hearings and waste of precious time and money on pursuing the case for ages when the case can and should be decided on the same day in majority of cases and in less than a month in others.
Anybody who has watched the proceedings in a court of law would vouch for the language limitations of the lawyers on both sides and the judge- everybody seems to have a meaning for the word, sentence or the paragraph.
Most of the time is lost in these arguments even before the judge draws up the issues on which a judgement is needed.
The remedy to this relaxed 19th century tradition of dealing with court cases needs instant overhaul.
If cricket format has changed to 50 overs from 5 long days haul of relaxed play, court proceeding can be hastened to deliver prompt and better judgement.
It is far superior than the decades taken currently because judges change in the meantime and people have no memory of things past. They have moved on and need not get bogged down with the past. This creates perfect situations for compromising justice at the altar of delay.
Technology can help us. The lawsuits should be brief and to the point. Issues should be presented succinctly before the prayer is written. The provisions of the law should be clearly mentioned. If the plaintiff wishes to present his case personally without the help of a lawyer, a template should be able to help him with the relevant provisions of the law. It is possible: if Google can search in no time the desired information, so can it help the litigant with these details. The Written Statement of the defendant can be filed similarly. Thereafter the plaintiff can file his rejoinder. At this stage the court should be able to apply its mind to the issues and prayers and arrive at a judicious conclusion. The litigants can then be summoned and told about the tentative decision and also given an opportunity to make further submissions, if any.
Only true submissions should be entertained by making it clear that any false statement or submission entails rejection of the prayer of the concerned party.
Litigants should not be called to the court at 10 AM when their turn does not mature before 4 PM. It should be scheduled properly taking adequate care that seekers of justice are not made to sit in the court room from morning till evening to be told in 5 seconds of the next date of hearing only. It is unjust and unfair.
Litigants should be treated with dignity. Aged, decrepit, sick, lactating mothers, persons with disability, women and young impressionistic minds are made to stand or loiter in the congested verandahs of the courts for their call. Not sufficient chairs are available. Hence people have to sit on the dirty ground, near the toilets. Toilets and police lockup are just outside the court rooms! Is that fair?
In the High Court, the security considerations make it a great botheration to obtain an entry pass in the morning when everybody flocks to the reception counter because nobody knows when his case may come up and when he may be penalized for non-appearance, even as he is very much in the queue for an entry pass to reach the concerned court. The court of the Registrar concerned has no consideration for these troubles. Hence, to mitigate it, the plaintiff and defendants should be issued a card for entry on the days of the hearings till it is finally disposed of. It will save time and the entry gate staff will allow him as the card will show the details and date of the hearing and court number.
When cases need to be transferred from the lower court to the higher court, the concerned court should send the file to the higher court on receiving an intimation from the appellant. It would be better if the higher court directs lower court to transfer the file to it without the appellant running around the lower court and penalized for its inefficiency in delayed transmission of the file to the higher court.
The practice of calling the parties to the court should be replaced by video conferencing. All problems of traffic jams, pollution, waste of precious time, cost of commutation, health hazards of the aged, sick, disable or women litigants will be solved and decisions will be faster.
One of the biggest reasons of ever increasing pendency of court cases is the freedom and right to tell lies in the court on behalf of the litigants and their lawyers. The court room converts into an arena for the debating matadors, even though the cases are generally open and shut cases. Only on the criminal side, things remain complicated for some time but the courts can bring a sense of urgency and awe for justice there also.
Finally, judges should be genuinely learned. Lawyers should not take them on a ride only because of their experience. Learned Judges can learn about the tricks played by Learned lawyers before occupying the Bench.
Justice demands to be dispensed with no costs to the victims of civil or criminal wrongs. People seeking justice should not be made to regret their decision to approach the court of law. That is possible only if justice is swift and affordable at little cost. Only then can my New India gain the reputation of a just and fair society.