The course of justice often prevents it. This quote is absolutely true in the Indian context. Over 3.5 crore cases are pending across the courts in India. India is the second-largest populous country with a population of more than 135 crores and surprisingly the current number of judges in the country is approximately 18000. This implies that a single judge is available for a population of 75000. This ratio is huge and this number should be minimized.
To curb this problem, one such constructive step is taken by the Government of India. The law and justice minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Bill 2019 in Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in the same week and President assented to it to give it a form of an act.
This act aims to increase the maximum number of judges from 31 (including the Chief Justice of India) to 34. This strength was increased when days after former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi wrote to PM Narendra Modi to increase the maximum number of judges in the Apex Court.
Though this act is constructive at the same time is a very small effort. It is because, in the Supreme Court, the number of pending cases is approximately 60000. Out of 3.5 crore cases, the Supreme Court has to decide these many cases. This implies that there is a huge chunk of cases pending in the High Courts and other lower courts. To decrease the burden of the judiciary, these cases must be solved. But the current situation is that in the various High Courts and District Courts across the country, there is a huge number of vacancies in the appointment of judges. Out of the current number of sitting judges in the High Courts, 33% of them are ad hoc judges. According to various sources, the vacancies in the High Courts and District Courts are an all-time high, touching the mark of 6000.
The numbers are alarming because these many vacancies in the lower courts are the roots of the tree of injustice. The cases in the judiciary date back to the 20th century and dates after dates are allotted to the people. Generations of a family face the consequences of this delay and this is absolutely injustice and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. On average it takes about 6 years to dispose of one case in the District Courts. When it takes these many days to get justice, then the worth of it gets decreased. Further because of the appellate jurisdiction of the High Courts and Supreme Court, it takes even more time. It takes more time, more money, and more energy.
This backlog of cases is in the district courts mostly. So to reduce this, the government should promote Alternative Dispute Resolution methods like Mediation, Negotiation, Conciliation, and Arbitration, etc. These methods would help in solving the cases legally without the involvement of courts. The latest example of this could be the mediation in the Ram Janmbhoomi case. In this case, mediation did not solve the dispute. But using these methods, there is a great scope of clearing the backlog. It is because these methods are recognized by the courts. This implies that at the same time a court can dispose of two cases. The advantage of this system is that decision, whatever it is, is not binding on the parties if any one of them is dissatisfied. It is with the consent of both the parties that the decision after Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods is approved by the court. If they are not satisfied, like the Ram Janmbhoomi Case, Then they can again knock the doors of the court.
Also, the number of cases filed in the courts should also be reduced. It is observed that people file cases to show their dissent towards a policy proposed by the government or the laws made by the Parliament. To reduce this kind of litigation, it is the duty of both union and state governments to create awareness about the policy or law. All sorts of confusions must be cleared by the Legislature and Executive to help Judiciary.
The steps must be taken at the earliest because a number of cases filed in a year cannot be reduced to that extent and at the same time the disposal speed of the judiciary is very slow.
It is really very difficult to get justice in India. People have to wait for decades to get justice. But still, people have faith in the Judiciary of the country. It is the duty of this organ of the Government to not lose this faith. The people still after waiting have hope that they would not be denied justice. This confidence of the general public needs to be maintained by the Courts otherwise the respect with which the courts in India are observed would reduce and then there would be no use of the existence of Judiciary. The people would deal with the cases by themselves thus distorting law and order completely and eradicating the peace from the country.