A healthy democracy requires an efficient judiciary working independently alongside an effective executive and a responsible legislature. Looking at the lack of transparency and simplicity in our judicial system, it is time for “We, the people ofIndia” to assert ourselves. After all, the issues of judicial reforms and accountability cannot remain the sole preserve of politicians, bureaucrats, judges and advocates.
Given the state of current affairs, what is urgently needed is judicial reforms in general and judicial accountability in particular. However, in order to achieve that a critical examination of the judicial system is needed. It requires intense all-inclusive debate in the media without the fear of contempt of the courts.
- Lower Judiciary: While the activities of higher judiciary affect the common people indirectly, the lower judiciary under the High Courts impacts them directly. It is here that we need to upgrade and expand infrastructure and simplify procedures. Increasing use of information and communication technology in lower courts will have a very positive effect by way of eliminating arbitrariness and corruption of petty court officials.
- Introduce shift system and cut down the number of holidays in all levels of judiciary.
- Encourage Use of Video Conferencing: A lot of crowding in courts and the hassle of transporting undertrials from jails to courts can be saved if e-communication facilities link courts with jails.
- Reduce Government Litigations: A lot of cases pertain to government departments where their employees seek legal recourse. By making its administration efficient government can save a significant time of the courts.
- All India Judicial Service: The Government of India should also examine the feasibility of creating an all India Service for judicial officers in the same manner as that of IAS and IPS officers. It will also attract talent in judiciary services.
- Interaction with Universities: Judiciary must have an ongoing interaction with academia both to attract talent and to cultivate fresh ideas. The law curriculum needs modernization and up-gradation.
- National Judicial Commission: Take away the right of appointment and monitoring judges’ conduct from the high judiciary and assign it to an independent National Judicial Commission (NJC), which must be created as a statutory body like the Election Commission.
- The Judicial Commission must not be monopolized by existing or retired judges – and must include respected members from the legislature and academia, independent thinkers, and activists. It should be empowered to appoint judges as well as probe complaints of their misconduct and initiate criminal proceedings wherever required without anyone’s consent.
Role of NGOs and activists: They must exert pressure both on the government and the judiciary to speed up judicial reforms at all levels. Anna Hazare’s movement has generated a massive momentum; it must not be allowed to die down.
Read Our Detailed report: Judicial_Accountability_in_India