Dec. – 16: ADVOCACY
Simple, inexpensive path to legal reformÂ Â
The functioning of our legal system is hurting the economy. Economic development depends on the efficient working of the judicial system. The 2016 World Bank report on â€˜Ease of Doing Businessâ€™ has ranked India very low – at 178 out of 189 – on the criterion of â€˜Ease of Enforcing Contractsâ€™.
To address this grave problem, CERC submitted a report on â€˜Ease of Enforcing Contract: Low Global Ranking of India and Need for Reforms in Court Managementâ€™ to the government urging for the Prime Ministerâ€™s intervention. The report highlights simple corrective actions that can be taken to expedite judgements.Â
Long delaysÂ Â Â Â Â
Normally, in a civil suit in India, it takes between five to 25 years before a litigant gets justice. Â More than 3.2 crore cases are pending in various civil and criminal courts. The backlog is also huge in debt recovery and tax tribunals. Moreover, our legal system is archaic – mostly a continuation of the system established by the British.Â
SUGGESTIONS FOR REFORM
Realistic daily case board: Presently, about 75% of cases listed on the board are adjourned. Often, calling out all matters on board consumes half a working day! This can be avoided by restricting number of matters placed on the board.
Clarity on adjournments: It should be noted which party is the initiator of the adjournment – lawyer of the plaintiff, lawyer of the defendant or the court itself, to ensure transparency.
Modern technology and management expertise: The adoption of these can help the cause of speedy disposal. For instance, using SMS, the problem of likely adjournment of a case can be resolved beforehand.
Focus on litigant: There is a need to empower the biggest stakeholder of the system â€“ the litigant – with information about the causes of delay. He should become more participative and responsible.
Curbing vacations: At present, on an average the Supreme Court has 193 working days a year, high courts – 210 and trial courts – 245.Â Fixed vacations are enjoyed by only educational institutions and courts!
In sum, our legal system lacks sound management practices and customer orientation. The measures suggested above can be easily implemented. They do not require additional expenditure or legislative amendments.
Source: Extracts from a detailed report by advocate Kirti Bhatt