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Judicial reforms

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While the Karnataka High Court is to be commended for its efforts in introducing innovations like ‘mediation’, a question that arises is why is it not doing certain simple things that can earn it considerable goodwill from the litigants.

Now, it is fairly well known that the best way to delay something that is due, for instance a payment, is to somehow get the matter into the court. With the liberal adjournment regime prevalent today using the flimsiest of reasons, the matter can be dragged on for years together, even as the cost of money mounts by the day. A simple process of tracking the cases can very easily put an end to this kind of misuse. But, apparently, no thought has gone into it.

Another glaring omission is the extremely poor maintenance of the court complexes. At the City Civil Court complex, I was recently witness to a lame litigant having to climb up four flights of stairs with the help of his crutches, since the only operational lift was not available for the use of the lay public. That apart, even the most optimistic of litigants whose case may be moving along smoothly, is bound to get put off by the deplorable conditions of the toilets, the parking lots, etc, apart from the sight of the ‘paan’ stains all along the stairways. The answer very simply is to engage competent contractors, of whom there are plenty available today.

So even as the Chief Justice is upto introducing new innovations, one seeks his mediation in these simple but equally important matters also.


tsubba's picture


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A simple process of tracking the cases can very easily put an end to this kind of misuse. But, apparently, no thought has gone into it. can you elaborate on tracking? are you saying the entire case history is not considered at judgement?
murali772's picture

meeting with CJ

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By tracking I meant mainting a digital record of the progress of the case on the court web-site. That will clearly show out hold-ups leading to their getting addressed automatically. Should be a simple job for even a PRAJA team to set it up, I guess.

I don't know if there are any constraints to this. I had been meaning to check out with the boss (Chief Justice) himself if a chance arose. Earlier today, I was at the court to participate (passive) in the hearings on the Master plan PIL filed by CAF (court got tough with BDA and passed an interin order asking to restore the green belt - look out for it in tomorrow's papers), and took the opportunity to try and seek a meeting with the Cheif Justice, sometime in the near future. I expect that to happen any time after 18th, with may be 24 hrs notice. I wish to take up the two issues I had listed in the initial posting in this blog with him. If anyone has any other specific issues that needs to be taken up at this level, please post it here. Also, if anyone wishes to come along, please let me know.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

family court delays

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Excerpts from an article captioned "Family court awaits judge; 3,000 Cases Pending; Post Vacant For The Past 2 Months" in TOI dt 14th Aug. I am proposing to take up this matter also with the CJ when I meet him, hopefully soon.

Uma Rao (name changed) has been waiting for custody of her daughter for the past two months. But every time she visits the III Additional Family Court for the hearing, her case is adjourned.

Like Uma, thousands of plaintiffs - battling matrimonial issues and domestic violence or seeking custody, adoption and maintenance - have been turning up at this court regularly, only to hear that the case has been adjourned.

The III Additional Court has not had a judge for nearly two months, and pending cases are piling up. The post has been vacant since June 20, after the previous judge, Radhakrishna Holla, was transferred to the principal chair.

The family court at the complex on Siddaiah Road has three additional courts, apart from the principal chair. Despite this, the pile of pending cases is growing, thanks to staff crunch. Officials say over 3,000 cases are pending at the III Additional Court.
Though the high court has issued a notification, appointing a judge is difficult. "The staff crunch has hampered court office administration. Long absence of judges means we can’t dispose of cases quickly,’’ officials say.
Another problem is only retired judges are appointed to family courts. A senior lawyer explained to The Times of India: "There are few retired judges, and many are unwilling to take up the position. It being a family court, the judge also needs to be more sensitive and humane.’’
This crunch has mounted pressure on the other additional courts, as there are about 12,000 pending cases. According to a Supreme Court ruling, judges cannot have concurrent charges as it might lead to biased verdicts. "There are chances that if a judge is favourable to the plaintiff, he or she may take the case to him for hearing. So concurrent charge cannot be given,’’ lawyers say.
But for plaintiffs whose cases remain unresolved, the wait is just getting longer. "I am waiting for the judgment to take custody of my daughter. But for the past two months, the case is adjourned every time I go for the hearing. I am helpless,’’ says Uma Rao.

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Nothing civil about this court complex

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The 78 courts that function out of this complex include civil courts, fast track courts, small cause courts and rural courts, but facilities to cater to the teeming numbers who flock this place on a working day are minimal. Eateries, toilets, rest rooms and drinking water supply units are difficult to come by, and the available few are only an apology.

For the full story, click on:

The remedial measures suggested in opening post are becoming more and more imperative.

Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

Re-visit of the City Civil Court complex

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I occasioned to go to the City Civil Court complex again today. Since I had some half an hour to spare before the typist I had engaged could complete an affidavit (this is wrt to case I have filed with the Consumer Court, about which I'll be publishing a blog soon), I decided to do round of the building to see if any improvement has taken place since my original report over two years back.

There has indeed been some improvement, though as the pictures here ( will tell you, a lot more needs to be done.

Some observations -
1) Two new scenic elevators have been commissioned, making it easier for the litigants to go up and down the building.
2) The toilets are usable now, compared to earlier when the stink and the paan-stained walls would keep you miles away. All the same, there's no water in the taps. So, the stink can resume within a few hours of use. The walls are tiled now, making them slightly more presentable. The first floor toilets were found locked, perhaps because of leakage to the space below, which houses the reception.
3) The three levels of parking areas are a lot more organised now, with fair amount of signages to help proper traffic flow.
4) The staircase areas remain badly paan-stained.
5) Even as glass facades have been built (at considerable cost, of course), basic maintenance seems to be lacking, with even plaster peeling off in places.

I would still like to maintain that it would be better to hand-over the maintenance function to competent contractors.


Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

Two months ago when I visited

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Two months ago when I visited that place, apart from the fact that the glass fronted elevator column looked out of place in the old building, the scenic elevators were totally in adequate for the number of people who need to use it. You will notice for the running between floors the lawyers have to do they prefer to use the stairs instead of waiting for the scenic elevators. Healthy habit I must say. 

murali772's picture

veritable death-traps

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With the exception of the High Court, no court in Bangalore is safe if a fire breaks out. Several thousands, including judges, lawyers and litigants, throng the city’s court buildings every day, unaware of the hazards.
None of the three buildings housing the City Civil and Sessions Court, the Metropolitan Magistrate Court and the Mayo Hall Traffic Court has taken a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Fire and Emergency Services Department, according to the response to a Right to Information petition. Filed by techie and social activist Sharan Desai, the petition has brought to light a complete disregard for fire safety regulations. 
- - - - The City Civil and Sessions Court building near Cauvery Bhavan houses 126 court halls in seven storeys. About 2,000 court and 1,000 government employees work here. On any given day, close to 10,000 advocates and 20,000 litigants visit the building. Yet, no safety precaution is in place. When the Fire and Emergency Services Department inspected the basement, it found dumped files, furniture and old vehicles.
- - - - B A Patil, Registrar-General of the High Court, said he didn’t know much about the safety measures at the lower courts and directed this reporter to the City Civil Court. Chandrashekar Margoor, Registrar of the City Civil Court, he said, “We have written to the PWD and we will take up the work soon.”
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here.
The maintenance being with the PWD, such a scenario is inevitable, with the fire department loath to act against a sister arm of the government. The result is that all of these buildings are veritable death-traps.
The simple answer is to make over the maintenance contract to professional private agencies. And, in order that the periodic inspections too are carried out professionally, entrust the job to licensed chartered engineers (as detailed here)
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

de-cattle-classifying courts

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He also expressed concern over the low salary of judges, which is equivalent to the first salary drawn by students graduating from national law schools. "If the youth do not see judiciary as a financially viable career, then they will shy away from becoming judges. And that is the danger," he said.
For the full text of the report in the ToI, click here
By creating a favourable working environment for judges, lawyers and litigants, we can make justice more easily accessible to everyone.”
And, for the full text of that report in the New Indian Express, click here.
When I asked a social activist friend, whose daughter had passed out of the NLSUI, Bangalore and was working for a Corporate, as to why he hadn't inspired her to take up legal practice, his instant reaction was - "why would she want to hang around those hell-holes (meaning, of course, the court houses), where you don't even have basic toilet facilities?", particularly so when she was getting a fat salary at her current job. 
We have excellent law schools in the country today, and I expect it is largely the poor working environment in our courts, far more than the matter of earnings, that's keeping the students, who pass out, from taking up practice. And, as long as the maintenance is with the PWD, you cannot have a good working environment - period. The simple answer is to outsource the job to professional contractors. I don't see why all our public buildings shouldn't have toilets of KIAL grade. There's this example from Kochi (bus mobility hub), for instance, where the PWD has obviously been kept out of the picture, to every stakeholders' relief.
I happened to be in the City Civil Courts complex a few weeks back. Somebody has pointed out the pictures I have put in this blog to them, resulting in the walls (along the staircases) being replaced by glass panels, and they are not too badly stained now. But, the toilet facilities are stll largely primitive, raising a stink (literally) up and down the stair-well, close to where they are located, enough to keep the likes of my friend's daughter away forever.
Well, you can label her elitist, and continue meting out cattle-class treatment to the people through your PWD. But, is that what you want to do? 
Muralidhar Rao
Promod Kapur's picture

de-cattle-classifying courts

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I thought 'cattle' in India is a much revered species and getting more respect than race horses.

But pun apart, it is really high time that the government starts to outsource services where they could at the very least demand accountability. I am not too sure whether the civil courts have been given to private agencies for maintenance via the usual lowest bid tender system or how. In that event whether private or government agency, it is less likely to make any difference.

During my recent visit to government offices in Delhi (visited THREE bhavans and TWO other offices), I found the toilets spick and span, almost as good as you can get in any 5 star hotel. Now that says a lot, whether maintained by private or government agency! comment guidelines

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