Crime Cases Pendency Justice For The Victims
Though the Constitution of India, a very model document for good governance, lays down justice for all, its guidelines have been implemented more in breach than otherwise, wherein high-profile politicians manage to get bail, despite conviction, proving once again, what the former Chief Justice of India, Justice Dattu had once said that all justice is judge centric.
Grossly under-staffed Judiciary adds to court pendency. The lack of judicial manpower, supporting staff, and adequate buildings also are the reasons of pendency and the result is unmanageable for courts. According to the Law Ministry, the pendency of cases in Supreme Court was 58,879 and in the 24 High Courts, it was 41.53 lakh in 2015. Case pendency of district and subordinate courts was 2.64 crores.
Crime against Children, Minors, Toddlers and Others
There is a spurt in crimes against children. The countrywide pendency of such cases went up from 74,400 in 2012 to 125,000 in 2014, an increase of over 59 per cent.
According to the Law Ministry, in 2012, at least 3,500 cases of crimes against children were pending in the various courts in the capital New Delhi alone. This went up to 4,253 at the end of 2013 and to 6,021 by the next year. Still in our country, there are publicity seekers, who do not want juveniles to be treated on par with the adults for grievous crimes, like murder, rape, etc.
Heaviest Court Pendency
Maharashtra had the highest number of pending cases of crimes against children, higher than Uttar Pradesh. Maharashtra had 18,000 pending cases in 2012, which increased to 21255 in 2013, and to 25,302 in 2014. While in UP such pendency increased from 11,115 in 2013 to 25,011. Madhya Pradesh ranked third and Gujarat fourth among them. While pendency in MP increased from 12,159 to 18,080 between 2012 and 2014.
Media revealed some of the following stories in January, 2016. In a bizarre ruling at Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, three men accused of raping a 15-year-old girl were given a punishment of just 5 slaps and let off by the local panchayat. The three accused absconded. Another incident comes weeks after a Haryana panchayat ordered five shoe slaps as punishment for two persons who were accused of gang-raping a girl in Hissar district. Even the National Capital is not a safe place where school girls were allegedly raped in October 2015 and January 2016.
There are over 3.72 lakh consumers awaiting for disposal of their complaints by the consumer courts. The Supreme Court bench headed by the current Chief Justice of India TS Thakur observed: “Our experience shows nothing is working in these courts. The members of consumer disputes redressal commissions are frustrated. Disposal of cases does not mean the system is working with perfection… In some states, the members hearing cases cannot even write two lines of an order in English.”
The Bench also added: “The government’s apathy has further compounded the problem as consumer forum members have to run with a begging bowl seeking financial aid from the administration even for small things such as stationery, The crumbling buildings, incomplete forum and shortage of manpower were stressing out the members who are unable to dispose of cases within three months, as mandated under the Consumer Protection Act, 1988… You (government) coined the slogan’ (Wake up consumer, wake up). But the day a grahak (consumer) wakes up, we are not able to handle the avalanche of litigation. Delay is perennial as admitted by the Government in Parliament.” In a case, an MP with criminal cases including murders was convicted after 11 years of pendency in the court. In the case of a former Chief Minister of a state, it took 17 years to convict him. He allowed to be on bail, till his appeal was decided.
According to reply given in Parliament sometime back, the then Law Minister also revealed that, “There were 9,928 cases pending trial in the beginning of the year 2011 and 10,010 CBI cases pending trial as on August 31, 2011 in various Courts including exclusive courts all over the country.
Over 2200 cases with the CBI are pending trial for over 10 years, as the agency suffers from shortage of 1176 officers at various levels, as informed to the Rajya Sabha. The minister said that sanctioned strength of CBI is 6565, but the actual strength as on date in CBI is 5389.
Our criminal justice system, with a staggering 2.63 crore cases pending in the district and subordinate courts (of which 29.49 lakh cases pertain to traffic challans and motor vehicle claims), is close to collapse with relatively unimportant cases clogging the judicial system”.
In 1987, the Law Commission, recognising that the low judge-to-population ratio is leading to pendency in courts, had recommended that India raise the number of judges from an average of 10 judges for a million people to 50 for a million. In the quarter-century since, the ratio has not improved.
The 13th Finance Commission has provided Rs 5,000 crore for developing judicial infrastructure, and the 12th Plan (2012-17) working group of the Union ministry of law and justice came up with a series of recommendations to overhaul the judicial system — but there is little to show by way of implementation and reform. For instance, the government proposed setting up 5,000 gram nyayalays in 2009 to ensure that “opportunities for justice were not denied to any citizen by reason of social, economic or other disabilities” — only 159 had been set up by March 2015. Even the position of Supreme Court and all High Courts in the country, the sanctioned strength of permanent and additional Judges as on January 1, 2016 is 1044. There are 443 vacancies, which is 37 per cent of entire posts.
Our legal system has 150 years old. Almost, broadly, the same out-dated laws and procedures have been in vogue. There should be a limit to the number of appeals, and the courts an accused can approach. In India, it has become a tradition to go on appealing to the High Court or Supreme Court, till a decision comes in favour of accused. Whether a person is killed by gun or stabbing or by rash and negligent driving, a death or murder remains a murder. For every incident, the onus lies on the prosecution and investigation to trace and produce witnesses before the court. One gets impression that law expects, that for every single crime, a witness would be near by or hiding and be keen to depose in the court of law, whether it is a rape to a 2-year-old girl or other ghastly crime, as it happened in Nirbhaya Cases, the details of which are too gory to be given in detail, like inserting a rod through her private parts. Killing through road accidents takes the cake, with almost no or nominal punishments, whereas, it should be on par with murder, and include the vehicle involved should be confiscated. The following officials details are more than deplorable and scandalous.
One serious road accident in the country occurs every minute and 16 die on Indian roads every hour. 1214 road crashes occur every day in India. Two wheelers account for 25 per cent of total road crash deaths. 20 children under the age of 14 die every day in road crashes.. 377 people die every day, equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every day. Indian roads were at their deadliest in 2014 claiming more than 16 lives every hour on average. Over 1.41 lakh people died in crashes, 3 per cent more than the number of fatalities in 2013. The above figures are only illustrative, but not exhaustive. Regrettably, no government has tightened the screws. How long should our countrymen should wait to have prompt and immediate justice? It is worthwhile telling our rulers that, sharpen your claws against wrong-doers. Have ears like owls, Hear what your child isn’t telling you. Have eyes like a hawk, so that you might see all that passes before you. Be brave like a bear and have the courage of a mother lion to save our countrymen.
By Joginder Singh
(The writer is former Director, CBI)