It’s the case of the fence eating the crop. Our legal system the most inefficient and compromised one, right from the Munsiff Courts to the much hyped up Supreme Court. Lakhs of cases are piled up, with hearings of many pending for over two to three decades.
Despite the huge backlogs, our Courts take annual, seasonal holidays, which would out a school kid to shame or High Court and Supreme Court judges demand accountability from the Governments at the drop of the hat. But when it comes to their own performance, there is no accountability among the judges. Why are the judges above the law?
As they say, justice delayed is justice denied. Ask any litigant in our country and they will tell you horror stories of judges sitting on judgments after having reserved orders. Quite often, judges give new dates that goes on to months, when either of the parties don’t turn up. As Sunny Deol had famously said in a movie ‘Tariq Pe Tariq’.
Any person, who wades into our legal system with hopes of getting quick justice, is left to fend for themselves. Justice has to been to be done. But, the wheels of justice grind slowly and often there is no end in sight. The rich and powerful can through their five star lawyers to get Supreme Court judges to wake up at midnight and conduct a hearing at their residences. In many cases, the doors of the higher judiciary have been opened up on Saturdays, Sundays and other holidays. Will an ordinary citizen get such a privilege? No hope in hell.
Why is our legal system so skewed that it’s creaking at every place? Why are judges paid despite not delivering justice, which is expected of them? Is it because judges think that they are beyond being held accountable? Isn’t time that judges have to undergo an annual appraisal which analyses their performance in ensuring taking the number of cases to a logical conclusion?
Judges are like any of us and they did not spring up just like that. They have risen from the ranks and have moved on to the High Court and Supreme Court, thanks to an Old Boy’s club, called the Collegium system. This system itself is unheard in any other country, where a set of senior Supreme Court judges decide who will make it and who will not make it. The same judges will declare illegal if a similar mechanism is put in place in any other constitutional body.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) was a body which would have been responsible for the recruitment, appointment and transfer of judges and legal specialists in India. But a Constitution Bench of Justices J. S. Khehar, Madan Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel had declared the 99th Amendment and NJAC Act unconstitutional while Justice Jasti Chelameswar upheld it. Why? Because the Supreme Court judges wanted the power to decide on who they want to appoint as HC and SC judges.
Come to think of it, what will happen if Election Commission of India or Comptroller and Auditor General of India start deciding who will replace them, before they demit office? If this had happened, the Supreme Court would declare as illegal.
Accountability is the bedrock of any democracy and every five years, the people exercise the right to choose the political party that they like to govern them. The political parties put up their report cards before the electorate, who then evaluate and decide, whom to vote for. But, when it comes to our judiciary, there is no such checks and balances. It’s a free ride. The time has now come to demand that our judges walk their talk.