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Judicial Reforms- UPSC Current Affairs

May 13, 2022

Judicial Reforms

Enhance your UPSC Preparation with our Daily Edition of Current Affairs Dialog Box. Today we will talk about Judicial Reforms in detail. Its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus is mentioned below:

Prelims: Appointments of Chief Justice

Mains: Judiciary, Important SC Judgements 

Why in the News?

Recently, the Chief Justice of India underlined the need to increase the sanctioned strength of judges and fill existing vacancies to address the issue of pendency.

Probable Question

Discuss the major reasons for pendency of cases and steps to rectify them. 

Key Points

Issues plaguing Indian Judiciary

  • High vacancy of judges across courts: Vacancy of judges in courts is one of the reasons for delays and a rising number of pending cases.
    • There were 4,432 vacancies in the posts of [subordinate court] judicial officers, representing about 22% of the sanctioned strength. In the case of the High Courts, 458 of the 1,079 posts, representing 42% of the sanctioned strength, were vacant as of June 2016.
  • High pendency of cases: There is a Poor case clearance ratio and high disposal time. 
    • According to the National Judicial Data Grid, there are 2.4 cr pending cases in India’s district courts, out of which 23 lakh (9.58%) have been pending for over 10 years, and 39 lakh (16.44%) have been pending for between 5 and 10 years.
  • Widening Gap: The disparity between the number of judges and the number of cases is growing.
    • The number of cases is predicted to increase by nearly 15 crores over the next three decades, necessitating a total of approximately 75000 judges.
    • In reality, the 25 high courts now have less than 1200 judges.
  • Corruption: The Asian Human Rights Commission estimates that for every ₹2 in official court fees, at least ₹ 1,000 is spent in bribes in bringing a petition to the court.
  • Lack of funding: The Chief Justice of India identifies three reasons for the “infrastructure gap”:
    • Lack of funds
    • Under-utilisation of existing funds and 
    • Poor planning of resources. 
    • The Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Judicial Infrastructure has released Rs 8710 crores for judicial infrastructure since 1993 of which Rs 5,266 crores were released in the last eight years. In addition, most state governments are required to match this amount in a 60:40 ratio.

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  • National Judicial Infrastructure Authority: The chief justice of India has proposed creating a National Judicial Infrastructure Authority of India that is independent of the executive to execute a “national project” called the National Court Development Project.
    • This project is supposed to lay down the “road map for the planning, creation, development, maintenance and management of functional infrastructure for the Indian court system”.
  • Use of Technologies: The use of technology particularly artificial intelligence must be encouraged in the following areas:
    • Lawyers can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in research.
    • AI assisted judgment writing tools can be used.
    • Digital filing for time efficiency and error management along with the use of smart templates – for court staff.
    • Seamless integration of courts with police, prisons and other aspects of the judicial system to expedite information sharing.
  • Creating Indian Courts and Tribunal Services (ICTS):  It will focus on the administrative aspects of the legal system. In 1997, the Supreme Court suggested establishing an “authority charged with supervising and fulfilling the administrative requirements”. The major roles to be played by ICTS will be
    • Provide administrative support functions needed by the judiciary
    • Identify process inefficiencies and advise the judiciary on legal reforms
  • Streamlining the Appointment System: The vacancies must be filled as soon as possible. The Constitution of the All-India Judicial Services is also an important factor which can definitely help India establish a better judicial system.
    • The 42nd Constitutional amendment in 1976 amended Article 312 (1) empowering Parliament to make laws for the creation of one or more All-India Services, including an AIJS, common to the Union and the States.
  • Shifting court workloads by establishing Special Courts: Based on specialised areas such as commercial cases can be transferred to the commercial division and the commercial appellate division of High Courts. 
    • Similarly Special Courts within High Courts can be set up to address litigations pertaining to land, crime, Traffic Challans etc, in order to reduce the burden on main courts.

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