This article is written by Bhavya Verma of JEMTEC, School of law, and curated by Anjeeta Rani of Chanakya National Law University.
India is a country with one of the largest legal peripheries in the world. Since ages, the judicial system in the country has been following ideals based on the processes being carried on by the members of this field. A lot of people and great jurists disagree that the present judicial process in India needs urgent reforms. But, the need and consideration for these reforms have never been taken into prominence until now, when the entire country is trying to make its way out of the COVID 19 pandemic which has affected many human lives and has also brought in many socio-economic changes in the state.
There is an ideal system wherein the innocent is absolved and the guilty is punished. But the way this system is brought into action is the biggest doubt which arises after clearly watching the drawbacks that exist in the system.
There have been ways observed by a few great jurists as to how the judicial process in India can be brought back to its utmost dignity. Provided, it is given full importance by every member involved in this field and avoid corrupting this system of justice.
A few such ways observed are as follows:
- Reduction in Hierarchical System- This system can be described as the distinction made between the types of courts prevalent in the Indian Judiciary. This system began to prevail when the courts were started to be described as lower or higher. Similarly, the distinctions are also made between the advocates of such courts. This divide creates a difference between respecting these institutions altogether and by calling district courts and magistrates the “lower” judiciary, grave disservice is done to their role and importance in justice delivery. The use of terminology steeped in the hierarchy should be discontinued. After all, the courts, more than any other institution, will be aware of the expressive power of language.
- Promoting Restorative Justice for regulatory or technical offenses-This is an approach wherein the focus lies on giving time and tasks for self-improvisation to a criminal booked for minor offenses that include imprisonment of up to 2 years. This is more of an identified alternative to imprisonment,
- Need for better investigation-There have been several cases wherein the people at the much bottom rungs of social power in the society have been falsely accused and have been convicted and account for the bulk of undertrials. Most of these people are tribal people, Muslims, or Dalits.
In the well-known case of Nambi Narayan, a scientist working for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had been falsely accused of leaking information and technical details of a project that was based on India’s effort on building cryogenic rocket engines. Along with Nambi Narayan, a few other scientists had also been accused. He was made to spend 50 days in jail. He also stated on his acquittal that he was tortured too during his conviction. The ACBI investigation cleared him of the charges imposed on him 4 years after his acquittal. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had also ordered the State Government of Kerala to make a compensation of 1 crore rupees to Nambi Narayan. That has not happened as yet.
- Increasing the use of digitalization and technology- This is the emergent need of the judicial process. In this entire period that was struck by the COVID 19 pandemic, the cases that were held in the court were having virtual hearings and such a process should not be used just as a temporary measure but should be brought into prominence in handling cases for the future as well. The Bar and the Bench should deem such use of technology in the judicial system as a long-term solution to problems that exist in the judicial system, mostly getting over with the cases which are pending and racked up in courts. This shall also require the Bar to accept the emergence of digitalization technology and prepare all its members to deal with the same.
- Cutting down judicial delays-The solution to deal with the huge backlog of cases is not simply to increase the number of judges, judicial employees, or fill vacancies, but to come up with more innovative and progressive solutions such as creating new courts of appeal and fast track courts. This should be taken up as a mission under the leadership of the Chief Justice of India so that the judicial system in the country should not only be known for the eloquence of its substantive judgments, but also for its aptness to deliver justice quickly, independently and in a manner that keeps the belief of the people of the state intact.
All of such factors mentioned above can be a great move in uplifting the judicial sanctity of the state. People of various sectors of the society have given up on the way the judicial system functions in the state. Mostly because of the reason that many of them have not been served justice over years of yearning, waiting, and making visits to the courts. All of these aspects would only get better if people unite to work towards bringing a collective improvement in the Judiciary of the nation and bring about strictness in the administration of these improvements if ever made.