The comedy of faith in judiciary

By Prabhakar Timble
28 May 2013 06:19 IST

Indian pace bowler S. Sreesanth, who was arrested on the charges of spot fixing in the on-going Indian Premier League said that he had utmost faith in India’s judicial process and was confident that with time he would be proved innocent and his honour and dignity vindicated and restored. I would say that this faith and confidence is awesome and not at all shocking.  Such conviction of the law breakers speaks volumes of the state of our judiciary. If this strong belief in the judiciary should change for the better, than the statements of men like Sreesanth should frighten and chill this third pillar of the Indian State.

“I have full faith in judiciary, the entire thing is put on judiciary,” A Raja, the tainted former minister of Telecom told the people of this country with confidence. The DMK party along with M. Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran expressed in no uncertain terms the unflinching faith in law and judiciary when matters came up on 2G spectrum allocations. Coming back to the IPL pitch of shame, it is well known that Section 420 is not an appropriate provision to get any conviction in the case of match fixing. Betting and allegations of match-fixing are not new to sport. However, the graphs of sport and betting have grown together though the two are not linked.  The IPL T20 formats have less to do with sport and little to do with cricket. It is more to do with commerce for franchisees with best bargains for stakeholders and unlimited entertainment for viewers, not necessarily cricket aficionados.

Abiders losing faith

The law breakers have faith in law and trust in judges and courts. It is they who make the legal profession as a lucrative and thriving industry.  On the judicial field too there are allegations of fixing. Those who are faithful to laws and abide by them are losing faith in judicial system. Somehow the judicial system works to live up to the faith reposed in it by the law breakers. The judges and the courts are unmoved by the plummeting faith and act as if the class of law abiders is not their electoral constituency.

The real power of the Courts lies in the trust, faith and confidence of the common man in the judiciary. Care should be taken this this faith is not frittered away by pompous judgements and sweeping criticism of the other organs of governance. While perpetrators and killers in communal riots, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, rapists and those who grab lands of the poor roam free the jail seems to be the destination of those who fight for justice. The system has to improve a lot so that common man can have faith in it. The allegations that law and judgements can be purchased are not untrue.

Our judicial system is time consuming and expensive. The total pendency in the Subordinate Courts and High Courts by the end of 2011 calendar year was over 3.1 crore cases. The pendency by the end of 2012 calendar year in the Supreme Court was over 66 thousand cases. Delay further adds to the costs. With the Bench and the Bar abdicating its duty to evolve a system for their time bound disposal, beating the drum of faith in judiciary is a mockery. However, Justice Krishna Iyer holds that “people look towards Judiciary with a sense of immense faith because they have little trust in the executive and legislature and the Judiciary was required to come up to their expectations. Speedy disposal of cases is the only answer to restore faith of a common man in our system”.

Weak Bench

We relish in throwing pot-shots at the legislators and the executive. We are free and prodigal in this. A weak Prime Minister is a subject of debate during the full term of office. Dr. Manmohan Singh has been ridiculed beyond proportion as a prisoner of coalition politics and the UPA chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. But, we never find a national debate on the Bench in the High Courts and Supreme Court of India. This talk of “weak bench” and or “committed bench” is heard in hushed tones in the Bar rooms frequented by lawyers.

Judges tend to become pro-active and pro-people after retirement than whilst in office. Recently, Justice K. T. Thomas, retired judge of the Supreme Court commented that the death penalty to the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case needed a review. Justice Thomas was a part of the three-member Bench which had upheld the conviction and the punishment. Though a “functus officio” statement as there is no mandate after delivery of the judgement, such statements create confusion in the minds of common man. Probably, retirement makes the judges wise as they realise that once a life is taken, it cannot be restored.

The infamous judgement in the Fundamental Rights case had upheld the draconian provisions during the Emergency. This was a clear example of a “weak” Bench committed to the Executive of the day. There are similar situations in some of the High Courts today. Litigants and people with genuine grievances are advised by lawyers to avoid a judicial recourse for relief and justice as the Bench is perceived to be pro-government rather than pro-State and pro-law. These trends are generally seen and described as pre-retirement syndromes. There are also instances where the Bench comes under the influence of public relations outreach of senior pleaders.

Therefore, transparency and accountability coupled with independence is required from the judiciary. A judiciary independent from the executive with insensitivity to common man would be an abuse of independence. If the judiciary commits itself to the mission of delivering the judicial “product” in time and without other deficiencies and influence of extraneous factors, judges in office should not only listen to criticism but take a step forward and encourage censure and disapproval as we find in the case of the Executive.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

After reading thought-provoking article, I’m tempted to add few lines on the subject.

People having lost faith in judiciary openly say, “Justice delayed tantamount to justice denied. There are no records in Indian judiciary to indicate that politicians’ scams and corruptions are taken to logical conclusions!” People also say, “Politicians scams, corruptions, murders related cases are never taken to final logical conclusions. Such cases are kept alive without final verdict till the concerned politician dies natural death and the case is than closed for good (who’s good no one knows!) or for God to take the decision!”

Now the serious concerns: Upcoming generation has totally lost their trust and faith in judiciary. Today they openly speak filmy dialog, “No FIR.....No arrest...Faisela on the spot......let anyone file the case on us....we are not bothered....for we have learnt the tricks of the trade of dragging the case to no conclusion .....and even to get verdict in our favor!”.......... AASATYA MEV JAYATE .... JINDABAD.

- Uday, Margao | 03 rd June 2013 12:49

 

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