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Cure To The Failing Judicial System

Social Activists Deliberate Cure To The Failing Judicial System

Chandigarh

March 21, 2009

A symposium on “Why is the justice system failing” was held by a group of civil society organisations at Commonwealth Youth Centre today. A group of civil society groups from the region got together under the banner of “Coalition for Social Engineering” and deliberated about the ills suffered in the administration of Justice.

Hitender Jain of Resurgence mentioned that the onus to uphold the Constitution, the laws and the regulation lies with the Judiciary but however over the years, the situation has gone from bad to worse. “The judicial system appears to have totally failed. The condition of the quasi-judicial system is even worst. Most quasi-judicial systems have become a farce, and a place to accommodate and resettle the retired sycophants. The appointment in most of the commissions and forums is done in a hush-hush manner and without any transparency.” Jain added.

Calling for the need to amend the contempt of court laws and expunge the unnecessary provisions in the constitution, social activist Hemant Goswami mentioned, “The way out of any problem starts with an open debate, discussion and constructive criticism. However, even honest and factual dialogues are often discouraged by the looming threat of over-zealous and unjustified interpretation of the “Contempt of Court” laws. The lack of free dialogue and free speech on the ills of judiciary and the corrupt elements within the system has only multiplied the woes.”

“It is important to speak up and reclaim the right to free speech and right to do an honest and critical assessment of all the constituents of the system of governance. Judiciary is not above free speech and criticism by the citizenry since even judiciary was a part of the Government, which has been formed by the people within the democratic system.” Goswami added.

Social activist H. C. Arora mentioned that there was a need for an independent forum with members from other sphere of public life too for adjudication of matters of criminal contempt of court. “All courts should also have video recording in all the courts and all the proceedings should be duly video graphed. In the age of modern technology, the idea of having an open court must include allowing people to witness the proceedings of the courts and make them more transparent and open for public scrutiny.”

Kamal Anand of People for Transparency mentioned that “People were frustrated, angry; but helpless with the current state of the judicial system. There seems to be no way out and the general view of the public is that the rich and powerful appear to be getting their way around the justice and the laws appear to be adjusted to their standards; be it the courts or the legislation enactment.”

Surinder Pal Singh emphasised that Contempt of the Constitution has to be bigger than Contempt of the Court as the “part can never be bigger than the whole.” He added that since the enactment of the constitution no person has ever been punished for the contempt of constitution.

Advocate APS Shergill added, “The bureaucrats frequently violate the fundamental rights of the common man, as guaranteed under the constitution. However an automatic system of checks and balances was lacking and if someone approached the Courts against the violation, at the best the rights were restored but no penal action against the executive officers has ever been taken even though Section 166 of the Indian Penal Code provides for penal action against a person who disobeys any direction of law.”

The mode of appointment of Judges and the members of quasi judicial bodies was also discussed and it was emphasised that the appointment to Judiciary has to be transparent and purely on merit. The present way of appointment of members in the Information Commission and other quasi judiciary was criticised as it was also not on merit and done in violation of Article 16 of the Constitution.

ENDS

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