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Judicial Reforms

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Text of the presentation made by Dr Leo Rebello on Judicial Reforms, at the Seminar organized by Society for Fast Justice, at Nalanda, Times of India, Mumbai 0n 28th February 2009.

Introduction: I present to you 24-point comprehensive agenda based on my vast experience of social work. For more details you may refer to my 3 books : (1) Pen Power, (2) Free, Fair and Fearless and (3) Miles to Go.. Promises to Keep...

1.. Supreme Court Benches in Major Metros in consonance with articles 14 and 39-A of the Constitution of India. We have been agitating for this for last two decades.

2.. Filing of Cases through Net. How many of you are aware that such a facility is available in the Supreme Court? (out of 80 persons consisting of advocates, litigants and hard core RTI and other activists only 1 raised his hand). Why should it not be extended in the High Courts too?

3.. Appoint Citizen Judges to High Courts and Supreme Courts, especially since we do not have the Jury system. This is possible under Article 124(3)(c) of the Constitution of India. Ramakant Khalap, Law Minister in Gujral Govt. tried to bring a bill in that regard. Gujral Govt. fell, the good bill did not see the light of the day.

4.. In Consumer Courts only Consumers in person/representatives of Consumer Associations be allowed to represent. Absolutely no advocates should be allowed. OR like in England the Opposite Party should pay first and then Contest/Appeal. This will clear up all the backlog in Consumer Courts which are supposed to deliver judgments within 3 months, but take anywhere between 3 to 10 years making the mockery of the CPA. Example: My car case 44/2005 is being delayed deliberately.

5.. No advocates in Family Courts too. They delay, they complicate, they take dates mainly to fill their pockets.

6.. Two shifts of 6 hours each in every court. That means Courts to function from 8 am to 8 pm. No additional expense on infrastructure is involved. Only doubling the man power is required and here we can summon retired judges as ad hoc judges and they should be given incentives on the basis of disposal of cases.

7.. No Summer and Winter Vacations to SC/HC Judges. 52 Sunday, 26 Saturdays, Public Holidays and Leave like Privilege Leave, Casual Leave and Sick Leave should be enough. Summer and Winter Vacations is the colonial hangover and sooner we do away with such a practice, the better it will be for all concerned.

8.. Desk Judges for admission and summary trials. That will save plenty of court’s time, which can be used to dispose off cases swiftly.

9.. Absolutely no dates should be given. Because, advocates take several briefs and cannot keep their dates in every court and petitioners/litigants suffer as a result. More than 3 adjournments should not be granted. And there should be punitives costs after 3rd adjournment/date.

10. Petty cases should be decided by Special Metropolitan Magistrates or Justices of Peace, like in UK and USA.

11. ACP-SEMs should not be allowed to hear cases on the well-established principle a prosecutor cannot be the judge in his own case. You cannot even report these corrupt ACP-SEMs (whose courts are known as Anadi Courts) for human rights violations because HR courts have no jurisdiction over court excesses and there are more human rights violations in the police departments and courts.

12. "Bail and not Jail should be the norm" ruled the Supreme Court long ago. Barring in serious cases like Murder/Terrorism there is absolutely no need to give routine Police Custody and Jail Custody. That is where all the big business of corruption starts and leads to overcrowding of jails and big money being collected by the Police to be shared by the advocates, magistrates and right upto home ministry. Cut system you see.

13. Panel for Govt. cases / appeals. Police register any case without even investigating if it comes from the Govt. office. But the same police do not register even the serious cases against the Govt. servants or against their seniors.

14. Simultaneous prosecution and damages should be paid to the victim of false cases or if deliberate cross cases are filed.

15. If English is the language of the judiciary, no local language orders/judgements be passed in the lower courts. That leads leads to accummulation of cases, more expenses in translations and wastage of precious time of people and courts.

16. Litigants have to knock the doors of the courts when system fails or when there are excesses in the system. According to CPA, of the seven rights of the Consumer, Right to Redressal is one of the Rights. Then for this redressal why should petitioner be burdened? There should therefore be no Court fee. Court Fee is a big nuisance. For every little thing one has to pay court fee - even to get your bail money back. Courts should not be seen as Revenue generating factories.

17. In Consumer Courts, Lok Ayuktas or Info Commissioners offices or on Human Rights Panel only well qualified/experienced social workers should be appointed. There can be a legal adviser to advise on finer law points, but absolutely no retired judges, retired IAS or IPS officers. Presently in the Maharashtra Human Rights Court there are two retired judges, two IAS officers and one IPS officer as members. Where is the member from the civil society? My name was shortlisted for appointment, but CM Vilasrao Deshmukh appointed Subhash Lalla, IAS, his principal secretary, six months before Lalla’s retirement. As a result the Court remained vacant for six months since Lalla did not join immediately. He wanted to have the cake and eat it too.

18. There should be heavy penalty for delays, but even costs are not given. Costs should be mandatory. Example my PIL on Ganpati Pandal and N. Hariharan’s case. Even discharge applications are not taken up expeditiously. Mediocre magistrates and PPs/APPs with police gang up and have turned the justice delivery system into stinking fish market.

19. All petty cases not heard or delayed for more than two years should be dismissed. Similarly, ‘attempt to suicide’ cases should not be booked. The Supreme Court had in Common Cause case given very good direction in these two matters, but later the SC itself upturned their considered decisions. When courts are run for business and not for justice, we have metastatis (multiple cancer – the end stage, the 4th grade cancer, the imminent death lurking in our face).

20. For Civil matters like arbitration etc. the matter can be solved through Private Courts. Even marriage disputes like when the couples wanting separation by mutual consent, the matter may be referred to private disputes redressal forums (or private courts). Alternative disputes redressal system should be fully utilised.

21. Arrears in Courts is due to sheer incompetence, indifference, corruption, arrogance – all borne out of non-accountability. High Court has supervisory jurisdiction on the lower courts, but this is rarely utilized. How many of you know that the Bombay High Court has a Special Investigation Department to discipline corrupt judges of the lower courts. (Not a single hand was raised).

22. Once you do away with the halo built around these puny “Lords”, lot of improvement in attitude of the judges will take place. For example, why should every one stand before these satraps and address them? This builds an incurable ego in them and they browbeat litigants. Standing before judges is a colonial syndrome. British treated Indians as slaves. Now “We are the Citizens” and everyone is equal before law. This lording over by the magistrates, judges, some of whom appointed on the basis of SC/ST reservations or due to corruption throwing merit to the wind also communalise and bring casteist elements in justice delivery.

23. A full fledge National Judicial Commission be put in place forthwith to appoint, train, promote, fine, remove, retire the judges of High Court and Supreme Court of India. The present impeachment proceedings protects even the most corrupt and mindless judges throwing judicial honesty and integrity to wind. On this I had earlier sent a detailed note to the Parliamentary Committee.

24. My last suggestion may appear a little harsh. But corruption having gone haywire need harsh measures. I recommend that there should be closed circuit TV and live recording in courts. I may also go one step ahead. Like on Big Boss you have to wear voice activated recorder and video camera, all govt. servants including high court and supreme court judges would have to wear a voice-activated tape recorder while on duty. These recordings should be permanently archived in two separate locations simultaneously to make them tamper proof and be made available to public on demand. If they are caught lying, conniving, accepting bribes directly or indirectly, there should be immediate termination from service.

The Govt. in India is the great fiction. All those in it – politicians, bureau(c)rats and judges – live at the expense of the tax payers. Giving taxes and power to this Govt. is like giving liquor and car keys to teenagers. That is bound to create problems. Elections are due shortly. Resolve to clean the Augean’s stable of Corruption that has ruined our country.


Rithesh's picture

Why so many holidays?

109 users have liked.
I fail to understand why courts have so many holidays - summer holiday, winter holidays and what not (point 7 in the above presentation) - with the number of pending cases that we have, the judiciary should instead be working over time.
murali772's picture

Bail and not Jail

113 users have liked.

"Bail and not Jail should be the norm" (point no 12) should have readily applied in

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

the problem is even more basic

133 users have liked.

In namma Bengaluru, the problem is even more basic.

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.

For the full details, click on:

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

Public building design

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The civil court complex was getting retrofitted with a new set of elevators outside the building, but the last time I looked the progress was very slow. The whole building is in a pathetic state. The collection and record rooms in the basement are inhuman to say the least. It was not designed for a high crowd public building like courts. Unfortunately instead of breaking it down completely they are trying to extend for more boxes in the back. Less said about the contractor quality the better. I am surprised the lawers dont get themselves some better facilities. The canteen sucks, i dont think anybody eats there they probably head out to KG/avenue road.

murali772's picture

Exemplary penal levy for wasting the court's time

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Even as Congress MP Mohammad Azharuddin amicably reached an out-of-court settlement in a cheque bounce case filed against him, his non-appearance before the court on Wednesday irked the judge, who slapped a cost of Rs 15 lakh on him for showing “utter disdain” to it by not appearing and “wasting” the judicial time. Metropolitan magistrate Vikrant Vaid imposed the cost after being informed by the former cricketer’s counsel that he had arrived at an out-of-court settlement. “If settlement had to be done, it could have been done on the first date itself,” the court said.

For the full report in the ToI, click here

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, the matter can be dragged on for years together, using the flimsiest of reasons, even as the cost of money mounts by the day. In this scenario, such bold action taken by Delhi Metropolitan magistrate, Mr Vikrant Vaid, is indeed very refreshing and commendable.

Perhaps, the civil society should join together to submit a memo to the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court to direct the lower court judicial officials to follow the example set by Mr Vaid.

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