An accessible, efficient & accountable judiciary which delivers justice to all

Objectives:

The judiciary today is not accessible to a majority of the people who cannot afford lawyers. It is virtually dysfunctional as cases take decades to be decided. There are serious concerns about the quality of judgments and corruption in the judiciary. It, therefore, needs comprehensive reforms. To begin with, informal courts envisaged as Gram Nyayalayas are needed, which  can function without lawyers and where normal disputes of common people can be decided quickly. The procedures of the courts need to be simplified and made much less formal. The number of judges needs to be increased and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods, particularly conciliation, need to be used in a more professional manner.

A dedicated professional court management team is required to streamline the process of hearing and disposal of cases more efficiently. The system of selection and appointment of judges needs to be drastically overhauled so that judges are selected in a rational and transparent manner – by first laying down rational criteria and thereafter providing for selection by a full time body which evaluates potential candidates on those criteria. All this needs to be done in a  transparent manner. There also needs to be a robust system of accountability of judges. For this, a full time body, independent of the government and the judiciary, is needed, which can examine complaints against judges and order their removal after proper enquiry, wherever required. Methods currently used to compromise the independence of judges, such as post retirement jobs, need to be plugged. The power to give such jobs should be vested with the appointments commission which should also be a body independent of the government. Also the administration of justice should be made more transparent by putting out all information of the courts on a website and videographing court proceedings and allowing the public to access them.

Action Points

2.1 Improve access to justice by operationalising informal Gram Nyayalayas, providing para legal staff and increasing the number of courts at all levels.

2.2 Improving the quality and independence of judicial appointments by setting up judicial appointment commissions to select judges at all levels in a rational and transparent manner.

2.3 Ensuring proper accountability of judges by setting up independent judicial complaints commissions empowered to receive and investigate complaints against judges and recommend action against them.

2.4 Increasing transparency in the functioning of the judiciary by proactively putting out all information regarding cases in the public domain and videographing court proceedings.

2.5 Improving independence of judges by removing all government influence in appointments of retired judges to Commissions/Tribunals, etc.

2.6 Improving court and roster management by having a professional court management team to rationalise and streamline listing of cases for better distribution of cases among benches, towards a more efficient disposal without inordinate waste of time of litigants, judges and lawyers.

2.7 Ensuring adequate representation and diversity in the judiciary at all levels by ensuring fixed representation for women in the lower judiciary and progressively applying such standards to the appointments made in the higher judiciary vis-à-vis women, SC/ST and other minority communities.