One of the most atrocious features of the Indian Legal system is its tendency to complicate itself. The legal system, far from acting as a resolver of disputes, accelerates and perpetuates it. While Indians are a litigious bunch, nothing justifies the extraordinary amount of backlog that our judicial system has. While there are various tribunals, adalats and alternative courts set up to ensure that the legal system is more efficient, they conclusively fail in their objective.
To give you just one real life example of how bad the situation is, just take the case of the District Consumer Redressal Forum, Kozhikode, Kerala, which is still hearing cases from 2009. This is when the statute that it functions under — the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 requires that all disputes be resolved within 6 months. In another instance, sales tax cases from before the introduction of Value Added Tax in 2004 (in Kerala) are still pending.
It seems to me that the closer you look, the legal system is not for the litigator or the citizen, but for the service of those who benefit from this system: the advocates and the judges.
Another barrier for many litigants and ordinary citizens is the language of the courts — many ordinary citizens, who seek to make use of the judicial system, would be instantly be at a disadvantage if they do not know English. Even those with a working understanding of English would be baffled at the use of the language of judgments. Yet another issue that has been highlighted is the complete, almost absolute lack of transparency in the system, stretching from the upper echelons in the Supreme Court and High Courts to the local Munsiff courts. In this context, the proposal to make the audio and video recordings of verbal arguments in the Supreme Court and to be made publicly available, is an appreciable move and should be supported by all. The United States Supreme Court already makes the text and audio of verbal arguments available.
While these issues remain of much concern to an ordinary citizen, there seems to be little to no movement within the judicial system to deliver a more efficient and transparent system. Amitabh kant, the CEO of Niti Aayog, had some excellent suggestions in an Times of India column. What remains concerning is the total lack of movement or action from the side of the judicial system. It is necessary by its nature of things that the judicial system has to take initiative to change matters . As Sri. Kant states in his article, the lack of efficient judicial system affects our economy in a negative way — but it also affects our society and culture in negative ways as well. It is necessary for progress and development in the 21st century that India adapts and adopts a legal system that caters to the citizens.
This article was first published on the author’s medium page. The above is an unedited version of the same.