The Indian Judicial System
In olden days, during the time of kings. justice was delivered in their courts quickly and a lot depended on the truth and wisdom of the king. Some of the kings were very just in their judgment & people were proud to be his subjects.
The Indian judicial system is based on English Common law and was started under the British. The Wien Judiciary is an independent body responsible for upholding the laws of the country. It has under it the highest court of justice or the Apex court-The Supreme Court which is at the central level. At the state level each state has high courts. District courts and session courts are there at district level.
Supreme Court is headed by the Chief justice of India, who is appointed by the president of India. There are also 25 associate judges. The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Disputes between the union government and one state or more states, interstate matters are dealt by it. The largest bench of Supreme Court is called the constitution bench and comprises of 5 or 7 judges. The constitution of India gives extensive powers to Supreme Court to enforce fundamental rights. It is also empowered to issue directions, orders, including writs (official written commands by cowl) in nature of ‘habeas corpus’ or prohibition to enforce them. It has the powers to direct,transfer of any civil or criminal case from one state high court to another state high court. Usually cases which arise out of an order made by subordinate court come to Supreme Court. People also appeal in Supreme Court when they are not satisfied with high court decisions. Of late Supreme Court has started entertaining matters which is in the interest of public at large. In this situation the court case is filed by a person or group of persons, by filing a writ petition or by addressing a letter to the Chief justice of India, justifying the need. This concept is called public interest litigation (PIL) and we have seen in the media how several public cases have become landmark cases. This feature of SC is very unique.
High court is responsible for the state judicial system and there are 21 high courts. The union territories come under the jurisdiction of different state high courts. A chief justice heads each high court and has other judges. High court has powers over all subordinate court within its jurisdiction.
At the district level, civil and criminal cases are handled. A district judge handles civil cases and a session’s judge handles criminal cases. These judges are appointed by the governors for the state. Civil cases at sub-district level are filed in sub-district courts or ‘munsif’ courts. The disputes at the village level are solved by the panchayats or lokadalats. This is a decentralized system which is functioning effectively in some panchayats.
Though our judicial system has delivered justice many times. there is a growing concern over its long delays in solving cases and distrust on it among the people. The delays. sometimes are too long that the accused get enough time to plan. use money power or influence and escape. For instance, the Harshad Mehta case took seven years of trial and he was punished. Again, final decision is awaited.
Delay in court proceedings is often due to witnesses turning hostile, judge’s absence or retirement, death of the accused, appeal to higher court and so on. People get fed up. because the financial burden is too much and the uncertain wait is painful. It seems there are more than 30 million cases pending in our courts. Many judgments are flawed at times due to lack of evidence too, which added to the delays cause the hopeless feeling. Also, very rare we find our judicial system punishing politicians who are involved in crimes.
People feel that our judicial system must be revamped, cases must be tried and judgment given within a stipulated time. Shri N.Vittal, central vigilance commissioner says that we have to strengthen our judicial system or speed up the judicial process. We’ll have to strengthen the hand of Chief justice of India as the head of entire judicial system.
Quick measures must be adopted and a fair system for everyone must be applied to gain the confidence of people. And more importantly people must respect law and stay away from taking advantage of law (filing false cases and wasting precious time of the court). Judicial activism off late has brought relief to many people and has got the support of the people.