Moneylife Events
“It will take thousands, not hundreds, of years to clear the pending cases”

For democracy to flourish, a smooth functioning justice system is necessary. The efficiency with which the Indian judicial system works is disappointing. This has to do with the lack of judges, laziness of the courts and various other inefficiencies. Bhagvanji Raiyani, founder of the Forum for Fast Justice, explained all these problems and suggested the judicial reforms necessary to keep our country from descending into a state of chaos

Bhagvanji Raiyani is not a lawyer, but, even at 75, he is regularly arguing cases, having filed over 100 public interest litigations (PILs). In Moneylife Foundation’s seminar on Judicial Reforms: The Backbone of a Real Democracy, Mr Raiyani outlined the various problems that exist in the system and explained why the citizens of India shouldn’t just stand by and watch. He began the session by passing around a brochure that, aside from the history and plans of Forum for Fast Justice, contained a tally of the number of vacancies in the courts.

After letting the audience skim through the document for five minutes, Mr Raiyani said, “You can see in the brochure that 30% seats are vacant in the Supreme Court and high courts. The percentage is a little higher for the lower courts. For example, in Allahabad High Court, there are 160 vacancies, but only 34 judges are working. Who is responsible for filling up the vacancies? The judiciary itself. The Chief Justice knows, of course. For example, the Bombay High Court advertises positions in the lower courts in newspapers. In 2010, 100 vacancies were advertised and 100 judges were employed. Again in 2011, 100 positions were advertised, but only 40 were filled. For 2012, the number dropped to 55 out of 159 vacancies.”

Mr Raiyani says that despite being unable to fill up the positions on first attempt, no further steps are taken to ensure that the positions are taken. He says, “It’s just forgotten about by the judiciary, parliament and government. Something needs to be done. Another problem is that intelligent lawyers aren’t coming forward. One simple explanation is that the salaries are low. Pre-independence, the salary was Rs3,500. 20 years ago, the salary had been raised to only Rs4,000. Now it is high, at around Rs1 lakh, but that’s what intelligent lawyers earn in an hour. In the Supreme Court, lawyers charge Rs5 lakh an hour. So the salaries will need to be increased if we are to see intelligent people take up these positions.”

The Times of India recently published an article claiming that 3.3 crore cases are pending in the courts. It projected that this figure would increase to 15 crore by 2040. Mr Raiyani says that with so many cases pending and so many positions vacant, judges are severely overworked. He said, “In 2001, the Judges Association of India filed a PIL about their workload. They said that they couldn’t handle the crores of pending cases. In the UK, it said there were 51 judges per million people. In Canada, it was 75, in the US, 117. In India, the figure was merely 10.6 judges to a million people. They got a favourable order. The number was to be increased, but nothing has happened. There are so many vested interests that the end result seems unattainable. The Supreme Court is sleeping, the lawyers don’t want this either.”

As the founder of the Forum for Fast Justice, Mr Raiyani has been campaigning for judicial reforms for several years now. He said, “There is so much that is wrong with the system. For example, divorce cases of Muslims and Christians are handled by the high courts. All divorce cases must only be decided in the family courts. The high courts must handle appeals. Another problem is that most courts work only one shift. Some start at 11am and end at 5pm. Their productivity could be doubled. The nation needs the judges to work more.”

Justice Krishna Iyer, one of the most eminent judges produced by India, has said that even kirana shops are more organised than the lower courts. Mr Raiyani said, “If you go to the courts you’ll find that much is in disarray. Judges who have been transferred to another court still have notice boards, litigants aren’t informed of changes in timings or holidays.”

To what was being said about inefficiency in the courts, some lawyers present in the crowd took offence. Advocate Bapoo Malcolm, who delivered Moneylife Foundation’s last seminar, on Wills and Nominations, said, “Our courts aren’t perfect, but it is wrong to berate the judiciary in this fashion. The very reason we can sit here and talk about this is because our judiciary is protecting what is enshrined in our Constitution.”

Shailesh Gandhi, former Chief Information Commissioner, also discussed the problems in our judicial system, focusing on the unchecked granting of stays and adjournments. Lastly, Mr Raiyani answered the questions posed by one participant interested in filing a PIL himself. The question was regarding the costs of filing a PIL. Mr Raiyani said, “The cost of a PIL is insubstantial. You need stamps worth Rs250. Once this is done, you can argue the case yourself. If you wish to withdraw the case at any time, you can do so.”




4 years ago

Constraints are there. But it has to be accepted that the vigilant and alert judiciary is one limb which is sustaining the basic features of our Constitution. Here are some suggestions, keeping in mind the inadequate infrastructure and manpower to handle the 3 crore odd pending cases across the country:
• Pending cases which need to be decided within a year should be segregated and taken up on a priority basis by designated courts selected from those now in position.
• The remaining cases should be given to the remaining courts and new Special Courts should be put in place at all levels depending on the number of pending cases. Timeframe for final hearing of cases should be decided based on transparent norms.
• The present practice of listing cases should be replaced by IT-enabled system, out of turn hearings becoming exception rather than the rule.
• It should be ensured that the vacancies of judges are filled in time. Do away with ‘retirement age’ for all categories of judges till an acceptable judges to population ratio is achieved. This will reduce the expectations about ‘post-retirement’ assignments which preoccupy the minds of those in service.
• Make it compulsory for government and public sector organizations to expedite procedures where they are on either side of matters before courts. This is necessary as there is laxity on their side as cost and delay seldom affects the individuals who handle cases in government and public sector. This position is slowly creeping into big corporates also.
• Make necessary legislative changes to reduce procedural delays.



In Reply to M G WARRIER 4 years ago

The Working Style and Lack of Seriousness by Courts in Taking Lawyers Non-Preparedness Very Lightly ,Knowing that it will be adjourned easily.Adjournment Rules need Change.Their Own Working style Improvement in Lower Courts is a must.As Pointed out ,Class 4 employee can call the Litigants Listed for the In Morning itself from 8 to 10 AM,and Parties available for that Day so that after Judjes arrival ,cases can be Executed from 11 AM itself,instead of Doing it in AN only.This work can easily be done by outsourcing or engaging Temporary Employees also. Your Points are very Good.

Sweena Jain

4 years ago

The picture is dismaying.All regulation are enacted,but are never followed by courts.Only interest of judges and lawyers is taken care of.Litigants are not cared at all.


4 years ago

Once an old man told me he filed a case (civil)in a Munsiff court and subsequently the case went for appeals and the Higher Court remanded the case to lower court and it went again for appeal and finally the SC decided the appeal.

The interesting part of the story is that the case started when he was thirty years old and ended when he was sixty !!


4 years ago

If u have attended any court proceedings in India, you would be amazed at how inefficient they are. The whole forenoon session is wasted in a stupid exercise of "calling". Only those cases where both the litigants are present or agree to be present, are taken up. The rest are assigned new dates - again to be called on that day as well. It goes on like this... No wonder few cases ever get disposed of.


4 years ago

There must be a Time Limit for Adjournments.Cases are being adjourned for Months,if not Years.2or 3 ,Maximum 5 Adjournements are to be allowed.Lawyers takes cases very Lightly,Knowing fully well that they will be simply adjourned.If there is a Time Limit for Adjounments,Advocates will get Prepared well in their Cases.
In TN Kanchi Swamiji's Bail application case , it is simply adjourned,as the Sr.Lawyer hired by TN Govt. as He is in some other Court at that time, forcing Swamiji to suffer in Jail for some Days evenin TN Govt. False Case..He should have Explained to his Assistat,who might have argued them in Court.Thus Adjounment is given ,simply to Boost up Revenue of the Advocates.Are Court's working to get more Income to their Lawyers or to do Justice to Indians ?

Delhi 5-year-old child rape accused arrested in Bihar

The youth was arrested by a team from Delhi with the help of local police. The accused, who had come to Muzaffarpur by a train from Delhi, was traced after tracking his mobile phone location

A 25-year-old youth allegedly involved in the rape of the five-year-old girl in the national capital was arrested early this morning, police said.


Manoj Kumar was apprehended from Chiknouta, his in-law's village, at around 2.00am from Muzaffarpur in Bihar, about 50 km from Patna.


The youth was arrested by a team from Delhi with the help of local police. The accused, who had come to Muzaffarpur by a train from Delhi, was traced after tracking his mobile phone location, police sources said.


Kumar had married recently and his wife had come to her parent's place two days back. The accused, working as labourer in Delhi, is a native of Bharphua village of the district.


Kumar allegedly raped five-year-old girl at his rented accommodation in east Delhi's Gandhi Nagar.


The girl and her family stayed in the same building where Kumar lived. Delhi police has registered a case and slapped charges of attempt to murder and rape among other things on Kumar, who allegedly confined the girl in his room for at least two days.


The girl, who was reported missing from 15th April evening, was rescued on 17th April morning from the ground floor of the building. The victim is battling for life in AIIMS hospital in the national capital after she contracted infection from foreign objects inserted into her body.


Second suspect in Boston bombing captured, brother killed

“Captured!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody,” Boston police department said on Twitter after Dzhokar was arrested

A Chechen-origin teenager suspected to be behind the deadly Boston bombings was on Friday captured by the police here after a 24-hour drama that saw another suspect being killed.


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, suspected to be behind the twin blasts at the Boston Marathon early this week was arrested after an exchange of gunfire with the police in which his accomplice brother was killed. He was captured from a boat, where he was hiding, authorities announced.


Dzhokhar, who was bleeding, was taken to a hospital and was in serious condition, the police said. Three people were killed and more than 180 others were injured when two bombs went off in quick succession on Monday amidst thousands of people near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.


The state police said Tsarnaev was hiding in the boat parker in the backyard of a house in Water Front neighbourhood of Boston. The police said they were first informed about the suspect from a resident of the area, who saw blood stains near the boat.


“He opened the tarp and saw a man covered in blood,” a police official said. The man retreated and alerted law enforcement officials.


Dzhokhar was injured when the police shot dead his elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, outside the same neighbourhood. Dzhokhar had managed to escape from there.


“Captured!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody,” Boston police department said on Twitter after Dzhokar was arrested.


The arrest was later celebrated by hundreds of people, who descended on to the streets of Boston chanting, “USA! USA!”


In his address to the nation, US President Barack Obama, hailed law enforcement officials for their bravery and hard work over the last five days.


“We are extremely grateful,” he said in his live address from the White House. “Whatever they (terrorists) thought they could achieve, they failed,” because, "as Americans we refuse to be terrorised", Obama said.


Obama assured the nation that unanswered questions from the tragic incident as to why and how this incident happened will be answered. “Why did young men who grew up and studied here resort to such violence?” Obama said this is another question that he would like to get answer to.


“We've closed an important chapter in this tragedy,” Obama said.


Earlier during a news conference in Boston late last night, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, said that Dzhokhar was in serious condition in the hospital.


The House Speaker John Boehner said it was a job well done under trying circumstances, to say the least.


US House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said the attack on the Boston Marathon is indicative of the shift in terrorists' tactics in recent years to inspire people who are living in the US to  strike.


FBI Director, Robert Mueller, said the investigation will continue as part of the efforts to seek answers and justice, and there will be no pause in that effort.


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