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Judicial Delay

Indian judiciary is one of the greatest judicial systems in the world for serving best results to the aggrieved. But as of now every person is aware of the fact that our judicial system is going towards wrong direction. It has now failed to go along with people's expectation. There's a well known saying "Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied." Having around 30 million cases pending in several courts of India and an average time span of 15 years to settle a dispute, it is clearly evident that justice delivery system has completely failed to run swiftly.

Judicial Delay

Delay in context of justice means the time taken by the court to resolve a case. Nobody is expected to get justice within a day or two. It takes time, it needs patience. Taking reasonable time for delivering justice is the quality of Judge for giving right judgement in favour of right person.

We need a clear mechanism, a clear strategy to dispose of the pending cases. Then an implementation scheme to work on it efficiently. Also, a check must be kept on such implementation by higher judiciary.

The reasons for delay differs from civil to criminal cases. Also, the different types of cases- writ petitions, petitions, appeals, reviews etc shows different disposal pattern across the state.

The lacunas in present laws and regulations, lack of awareness about fundamental rights, unequal access to legal services and imbalance in the number of judges to deal with pending cases are the real reasons for the delay caused in providing justice.

Reasons For Delay
Indian population is increasing at a much higher rate which has its impact on judicial delay too. Increasing population gives rise to people of different culture or ideals which eventually increases difference of opinions often leading to disputes among them. The constant increase in pendency of cases creates backlog in judiciary which results in delay.

Institution of cases in courts far exceeds their disposal. Though there is an increase in disposal of cases in several courts, the average disposal per judge comes to 2370 cases in the High Courts and 1346 cases in subordinate courts, if calculated on the basis of disposal in the year 2010 and working strength of judges as on 31-12-2010. Applying this average, we require 1539 High Court judges and 18,479 subordinate judges to clear the backlog in one year. The requirement

would come down to 770 more High Court judges and 9239 more subordinate judges if the arrears alone have to be cleared in the next two years. The existing strength being inadequate, even to dispose off the actual institution, the backlog cannot be wiped out without additional strength, particularly, when the institution of cases is likely to increase and not come down in the coming years.

Also, we have a poor judge population ratio. There exist an inadequate number of judges in India which demonstrates that quantity is the problem and delay in justice is its outcome. The population of India is over 100 Crores while the strength of judges is only about 20,000.

Australia has 41 judges per million people, England has 51 judges per million people, USA has 107 judges per million people. India holds the lowest ratio in the world. Worst is the fact that around 30% of the posts lie vacant in the system.

Allahabad high court has came up to be the body having largest case pendency, 58 out of the 160 seats are vacant. In the district courts, Uttar Pradesh, with a sanctioned strength of 3634 judges to handle cases, 1126 posts were vacant in July 2022, according to the data submitted before Parliament by the Law Ministry. Rajasthan High Court, with 50 seats on the bench, has 23 vacancies, while the Bombay High Court, with a sanctioned strength of 94 judges, has 32 vacant seats.

State is also responsible for delays caused in delivering justice. States may contribute to such delay in ways like lack of manpower needed for reasonable legal system, lack of infrastructure facilities in the courts etc.

Another major reason is that there is no fixed time provided in any Act or Code so as to dispose of a case. Taking advantage of this many a times parties are exploited in one way or other.

The best example of delayed justice is the Nirbhaya case[1], a 3 judge bench headed by Justice R Bahumathi and others. Where the 4 men convicted in Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case were hanged after almost 7 years of the heinous crime.

It is high time that our system must take some necessary steps to facilitate the delivery of justice. The reforms must be made in such a way that it is speedy and capable of providing justice to every man. However, very little has been done towards the ongoing crisis.

The government, judges, lawyers and litigants- all must work collectively to remove these ills from the system.

Vacancies of judges must be filled up on first priority. The Law Commission and the Supreme Court of India have examined the situation and recommended to increase the appointments of judges so as to fill in the vacancies. Zero vacancy culture has to be adopted as soon as possible as it has become the need of the hour.

Time limits for hearing a case and pronouncement of judgements in particular cases must be followed by the courts.

Courts may take help of management experts to settle cases for hearing of cases in a day.

Practice of adjournments adopted by courts on regular basis must be stopped and followed only in certain exceptional circumstances. This will reduce unnecessary delay in cases.

In case of Nandu alias Gandharva Singh v. Ratiram Yadav and others[2], High Court repeatedly denied the request of adjournment to the respondent for various reasons. The counsel for respondent has not prepared the case for eleven months citing frivolous reasons i.e. an order of trial court could not be obtained due to the ignorance of client. These reasons caused the court to delay proceedings and also witnesses have to bear the delays. Such professional misconduct on the part of advocate should be made punishable.

  1. Mukesh v. State of NCT of Delhi (2017) 6 SCC 1
  2. MP 1887-2017

Also Read:
  1. Judicial Delays: A menace
  2. Judicial Delays in Administration of Justice
  3. Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
  4. Causes for Litigation Pendency in India
  5. Delay defeats Justice: A study of provisions of Civil Procedure Code and Limitation Act
  6. Delay In Filing Of First Information Report And Its Impact On The Trial: Analysis Of Judicial Decisions

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