Friday, October 16, 2015

Indian Judiciary is beyond redemption.

I was asked my opinion on today's Supreme Court verdict declaring the National Judicial Accountability Commission #NJAC Constitutional Amendment Act unconstitutional.

So far as my own opinion is concerned, it matters tweedledum or tweedledee whether we have the Collegium system or #NJAC, as I believe that the Indian judiciary is beyond redemption.

What kind of a judiciary is it which often takes 20-30 years to finally decide a case(including appeal, revision, writ petition etc.)?

There are over 32 million cases pending in the Courts of India and it is estimated that even if no new case is filed it will take 360 years to clear the backlog. People who for some reason get involved in a litigation are weeping and crying because date after date is given but the case is not taken up for hearing.

Is it a judiciary or a joke?

I may only mention some facts about my parent High Court at Allahabad.

1. Criminal appeals filed in the High Court in 1985 are now coming up for hearing, that is, after 30 years. Similar is the position of civil appeals.Is this a High Court or a joke ?

2. The list of most benches is hardly touched, and only fresh matters taken up. This means that if on the first hearing of a case it is adjourned for some reason ( e.g. a counter affidavit is called for by the Court ) the case will thereafter never come up for hearing unless a heavy bribe, often of thousands of rupees, is paid in the registry to the concerned official. And even then, the case is very unlikely to be heard as in most benches the list of the court is rarely touched.

3. There is a senior judge who presides over a bench hearing writ petitions. He reportedly disposes off 150 cases or more a day, but without opening the file, and by simply saying, with half closed eyes " Suit, suit " ( i.e. go and file a suit, which in crude language means go to hell, because sending someone to a suit is like sending him to hell, as it will now make him run from pillar to post for 20-30 years or more before the suit and its appeals are finally disposed off )

4. There is a Judge who comes to Court at 11.30 or 12 ( the Allahabad High Court sits at 10 a.m. ), dismisses all listing applications ( i.e. applications praying that some pending case be listed ), and rises whenever he likes.

5. If the hearing of a bail application is adjourned for some reason ( e.g. the govt. counsel wants to file a reply ) one never knows when the bail application will be listed again.In my opinion, it matter little whether we have a Collegium system or the NJAC because the Indian Judiciary is in my opinion beyond redemption.

Similar is the position in many other High Courts.

Apart from the above there is now massive corruption even in the higher Judiciary. While many judges are upright, many others (which may be 50% or even more) are not. The subordinate judiciary is said to be 75% or more corrupt.

Mr. Shanti Bhushan, a very senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and former Union Law Minister filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court a few years back stating that half of the previous 16 CJIs have been corrupt, and he could not certify the integrity of 2 more of them. Even after that affidavit was filed many Chief Justices of India who retired had serious allegations of corruption against them, and there are serious allegations of corruption against the present CJI Dattu. Many of these CJIs, SC and HC judges were those appointed through the Collegium system.

One judge originally from Madras High Court against whom there were very serious allegations of corruption almost made it to the Supreme Court as the SC Collegium unanimously  recommended his name but it was only because of the objections of the Tamil Nadu lawyers who produced documentary proof of his corruption that  this move could not materialize. In fact, a bill for his impeachment was moved in Parliament but it become infructuous when he resigned.

So it makes no difference what system of appointment of judges we have, as the entire judicial system has broken down.

This article appeared in Justice Katju's blog. Posted here with his permission. Follow him on twitter here.