1. The problem of pendency of cases in courts across the country can be tackled with a few measures
Context: More than 40% of cases are decided after three years in India, while in many other countries less than 1% of cases are decided after three years. There is a great pendency of cases in India. The rich, the powerful and he wrongdoers have a field day by getting their cases expedited or delayed as they wish. This severely impacts the poor and marginalised.
Problems with the judiciary
Vacancies: there are vacancies in top as well as subordinate courts.
Opacity in appointment: No proper time bound process in appointment. There is no RTI in judiciary and no clarity about collegium.
Funds: difficult to pay and accommodate new judges, staff.
Efficiency: sometimes case listing exceed 100 per day and thus it impact quality of judgements. Many cases go unheard.
Pendency of cases: menace of PIL. Government is the largest litigant.
Recommendations of e-committee, has been in existence since 2005 within Supreme court.
Computer algorithms: It should decide on case listing, case allocation and adjournments with only a 5% override given to judges. Case listing should give main weightage to ‘first in, first out’;
SIGNIFICANCE: reduce arbitrariness and the unfair advantage that the powerful enjoy
E- Filing: petitions and affidavits can be filed and payment of fees can be done electronically without lawyers or litigants having to travel to the courts or use paper.
SIGNIFICANCE: It saves about three lakh trees annually.
Virtual hearings: COVID-19 prompted the courts to adopt virtual hearings. It is being done only on some specific cases while Physical hearing is still the norm. However, virtual hearings were held only in some cases while physical hearings were held in most. In pre-COVID-19 years, the increase in the pendency of cases in all courts used to be about 5.7 lakh cases a year. In 2020 alone, it increased to an astonishing 51 lakh.
Lesson: If a hybrid virtual hearing model is not adopted, the backlog of cases could cross 5 crore in 2022. This will make access to justice easier for litigants, reduce costs, and also give a fair opportunity to young lawyers from small towns. The required hardware is available in all courts.
Digitalisation of court's processes: e-filing of petitions, affidavits and payment of fees, registry department should be digitalised. Hybrid virtual hearing of cases.
Better Case listing practices: Algorithm-based computerised listing, roster, case allocation and adjournments with only a 5% override to be given to judges;
Hybrid virtual hearings;
Filling judicial vacancies; and holding Chief Justices responsible for ensuring that vacancies in judicial positions are less than 5% — are based on the Supreme Court’s various decisions and the e-Committee’s recommendations.
Advantages of such steps:
These would require no changes in laws. At a conference, High Court Chief Justices and the Chief Justice of India and the government could make decisions on all of this.
The common people faith would be restored in judiciary
Foreign investors are doubtful about the timely delivery of justice, which may affect our economic programmes such as " Make in India".
STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT
Tele - law initiative: it was launched by the ministry of law and justice in collaboration with the Meity. It provides legal aid service to the marginalized communities and citizens living in rural area through PLV(Para Legal Volunteers). NALSA provides a panel of lawyers who will provide advice through video conferencing
Nyaya mitra scheme: It aims to reduce the pendency of cases, specially focus on the cases that pending more than 10 years. Functionalized through retired judges designated as the Nyaya Mitra.
LIMBS: ( Legal information management and briefing system): It would digitalised the courts cases, interoperability of the data. It would allow to enter court case and details of all courts cases. It helps in access the data from one unified database.
Way forward: If all this is done, India’s judicial system can rank among the 10 top countries of the world. These changes would make India the preferred nation for international investments and also fulfil the fundamental right to speedy justice of citizens. As seeking justice is a basic and fundamental right of citizens. It should be delivered timely and inexpensively.
Expected question: How can digitalization help in addressing the various challenges that infest the Judicial system in India? (250 words)
2. The Maoist insurgency has weakened but its potency in select areas has not reduced
Context: Tackling the MaoistsThe insurgency has weakened but its potency in select areas has not reduced. In a meeting with State leaders and representatives, Home Minister Amit Shah noted that the geographical influence of the Maoists has reduced from 96 districts in 10 States in 2010 to 41 now.
Reasons: The contraction is not surprising.
Reduced Local Support: Armed struggle has found few takers beyond select pockets untouched by development or linkages with the welfare state; and
Limited resources of Maoists, despite consolidation— a prospect that seemed possible following the merger of two major Naxalite groups into the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist) — the organisation is limited to the remote and densely forested terrains of central and east-central India.
Flawed strategy of the Maoist: Rather than mobilising discontents with the Indian state by projecting its weaknesses and ensuring inclusion and welfare, the Maoists have privileged armed struggle, invited state repression and sought to use this to recruit adherents.
No one wants endless violence: Such a strategy has led to some of India’s poorest people, the tribals in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand in particular, being caught up in endless violence, and also caused severe losses to the Maoists as well as anti-insurgent security forces.
Reasons for Concern:
Maoists are still adamant on their ideology: the Maoists have not budged from their flawed understanding of the nature of the Indian state and democracy, unwilling to accept that the poor people, whom they claim to represent, seek greater engagement with the electoral and welfare system.
Greater Maoist Strength in a few pockets: The Maoist insurgency still has potency in South Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Andhra-Odisha border and in some districts in Jharkhand.
Frequent skirmishes and attacks: These have not only affected the security forces but also left many tribal civilians caught in the crossfire.
Alienation of Poor: A purely security-driven approach fraught with human rights’ violations has only added to the alienation among the poor in these areas.
Welfare: High risk states must focus on expansive welfare and infrastructure building even as security forces try to weaken the Maoists.
Empowerment instead of arms: The Maoists must be compelled to give up their armed struggle and this can only happen if the tribal people and civil society activists promoting peace are also empowered.
Justice as means to curb insurgency: The Union government and the States must continue to learn from successes such as the expansion of welfare and rights paradigms in limiting the movement and failures that have led to the continuing spiral of violence in select districts.
Expected Question: Despite the claims of reduced Maoist insurgency in India there is a lot of work that has to be done. Comment (250 words)