Thursday, February 29, 2024

Vacancies in the judiciary


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The judiciary is decidedly a vital pillar of democracy. What is disturbing is that there are a large number of vacancies in the judiciary in India and as many as one-third of sanctioned posts for judges have to be filled up. But the country’s twenty four high courts seem to take this fact casually. At the same time the courts are weighed down with a huge backlog of cases and as is commonly known, justice delayed is justice denied. On an average a judge had 200 cases listed for him every day. No doubt the vacancies in the judiciary hit the system and vitiate dispensation of justice. The endless delay in delivering justice diminishes people’s respect for the institution. More than 40 lakh cases are pending before the high courts and in view of that the number of 907 judges approved by them appears negligible. Lower down, the situation is much worse. Cases pending before high courts and lower courts together add up to more than three crores. It has been said that the Delhi High Court itself will take 466 years to clear its backlog. What on earth has happened to the gang rape cases in Delhi and Kolkata which created great commotion? They seemed to be bogged down with legal and political controversy. It is nothing short of mind-boggling.

It follows that judicial vacancies need to be filled up with the utmost urgency. It should be done at all levels of the judiciary. The system for delivering justice should be totally computerized. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms should be put in place such as gram panchayats and lok adalats. Good work has been done by the High Courts of Calcutta, J&K, Gauhati, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in curtailing the number of pending rape cases. That should set an example to the rest of the country.

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