According to Supreme Court judge justice Madan B Lokur, the judiciary was allocated only 0.4% of the budgetary outlay, which was quite insufficient. Asserting that increasing the number of judges alone would not help in speedy disposal of cases, Justice Lokur said 'these initiatives should be followed up by toning up the infrastructure at the command of the courts in the country'.
"The total number of courts in the country is going to be increased from 14000 as of now to 18,847. Apart from more judges, we require, land, new courts, modernization of the existing courts, staff to help judges, resources etc., which will be hard to come by in this situation, when there are many other challenging agenda before the government," he said, while addressing the seminar on Technology to Enable Accessible and Speedy Justice organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with the support of Thomson Reuters here on Saturday.
Justice Lokur, who is also the chairman of the E-Committee of the apex court, said that many far-reaching steps would be taken in the next one-year or so in speeding up the delivery of justice with the help of technology. Foremost among them is video-conferencing among the judges, particularly among those in different courts. "In some courts review petitions are pending for years since same bench was unable to sit again due to various reasons. In such situations, video conferencing can cut such delays," he added.
Mentioning that speedy justice should be seen from a larger context, Justice Lokur said that there was the need for a change of mind-set and greater induction of technologies. In this regard, he mentioned that the E-Committee of the Supreme Court was looking at various options to beef up the use of technology, such as use of software, judicial education, acting on sms, videos etc.
To track-down and reduce the petty cases like bribes demanded by various segments of people, Justice Lokur said that photos or audio images taken by anybody of a corrupt act can be considered as evidence. He said the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has developed a software linking all criminal courts, prisons, police stations etc. This system, when adapted would help courts to decide on granting bails to under trials without them being present in the courts. Also, such software would help in tracking down the history of the under trials, persons who stand on sureties. Such software also can be used for tracking down the age of cases.
Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman in his address underscored the need for accessibility to justice, which is enshrined in the Constitution. Intellectual Inventiveness, he remarked, was important in a pluralistic society like India. " We need judges, jurists and lawyers who can inspire common man and to help him in his pursuit of happiness. That can come by investing in our young lawyers, who are exposed to newer ideas and technologies," he added.
Mentioning that legal system should not become an oppressor, Nariman said that there were many reports and strategies evolved by eminent people, but they remained as reports and never acted upon. He was also in favour of using retired judges for clearing the backlog of cases and opined that legal aid system should be revamped to help the poor litigants.
The chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Justice AK Sikri, underscored the need for judicial education and differentiated it with legal education. "Judicial education is based on two hypothesis. The first is that the judges should consult each other and the second training and innovation improves judicial performance and productivity considerably," he said, adding that the judges should be apace with the technology to ensure speedy justice, particularly when the cases are relating to cyber crimes.
Also, the judges have to be sensitized about carrying out speedy justice in cases relating to rape, discrimination against HIV infected persons, destitute etc. " We need a socially relevant adjudication process for speedy delivery of justice," he added.
Importantly, Justice Sikri released a book authored by Geeta Oberoi titled 'Developing the Discourse Judicial Education' which he said was the first of its kind in India and would give insights to the judges to cope up situations that get unfolded while deciding about the cases. Referring to the role of technology in bringing about paradigm changes in the working of courts and in speeding up the carriage of Justice, Justice Sikri pointed out that computerization would lead to paperless courts and would greatly improve the record keeping and e-filing of cases, apart from improving the productivity of the judges several fold.
"Established in 1862 we have a mature legal system. In fact, references to administration of justice have been made in treatises on statecraft like Arthashastra. We have inherited a strong foundation but we now need to focus on excellence and execution", said Swarup Choudhury, managing director, India. "However, for a country the size of ours and with its multicultural identity, the justice delivery system also faces challenges to keep up with efficiency required to deliver justice without any pendency. The problem of arrears in our system is not new and many initiatives are being taken to address it," he added.
There was a video presentation by justice Anderson, associate justice, Supreme Court of Minnesota, USA, which dealt in details steps for court management and clearing the backlog of cases. Lalit Bhasin, conference chairman and chairman, CII task Force on Dispute Resolution, outlined the CII initiatives for addressing challenges of technology and adapting them to the needs of justice delivery.