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Judicial delays
September, 08th 2007

The recent observations of the Supreme Court in a land dispute case pending over 50 years are nothing new. It only focuses critical concerns over judicial delays in all the rungs of the judiciary.

The litigants are simply disgusted and the litigation costs have gone up. While the workload has increased for the lawyers, the criminals who have knowingly committed crime are managing to have a good time, knowing well that they will not be convicted for years and can, therefore, continue with their nefarious activities. By the time their case comes up for hearing once again, the concerned staff of the police department would have been transferred; the history of the case would have been forgotten so that the criminal can run free of fetters to do his job once again.

There is a famous dictum: Justice delayed is justice denied. In India this is an accepted fact. Yet little is done to rectify the situation. In fact over 80 per cent of the cases pertaining to illegal constructions all over the country get regularised because of the resultant human problems consequent to such judicial delays. The concerned authorities are unable to evict the encroachers on public land.

The maximum number of pending cases is in the lower judiciary. One of the major causes of delays is the lack of infrastructure, compared to some of the foreign countries. Over three crore cases are reportedly pending in the lower judiciary and 34 lakh in the various high courts.

The US has 104 judges per million people; Canada has 75 and India, 15. The number of judges should be increased to reduce the delays.

The two-shift system should be introduced in the courts. There should be increased computerisation and networking amongst the various courts.

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