Sunday, August 23, 2009

A long way to go

A legal matter that commenced in 1993 has not seen its end till date. Workmen fighting their cause have lost sixteen crucial years of their lives. Delayed justice has often been the topic for debate in many a forum. Few months ago certain reports that appeared in the newspapers seemed to indicate that things were improving. Judges were being made more accountable, and that matters were being decided with greater speed.

During my recent visits to the courts in North India, I saw a litigant and his very look spoke volumes for what our judicial system had done to him. When spoken to, he informed me he was sixty seven years of age, and had been battling for twenty four long years. He looked shrivelled and the long wait had ensured that the sparkle of youth had given way to the wrinkles of old age. I started wondering whether it was cruel fate or simply the curse of our judicial system. Have a look at him.
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I saw another litigant and in conversation understood that nothing really happened except adjournments. He was telling me ‘Tariq pe tariq’, which in English means ‘one date to another’. I also saw several litigants seated at the entrance without any knowledge of what’s going on. Advocates were merrily in conversation with each other and most of the courts were empty, some because Judges were to be appointed. Even if Judges were present, I was told that the Court sat only for three hours a day whenever the advocates or the court staff decided not to strike work.
Icing on the cake was where the cross examination of a litigant was in progress in the only court that was working. It was diquieting to see the litigant sitting on the floor and being subject to questioning. So much for being the underdog in the system.
I was appalled at the mediocrity of the entire system, and thought courts in cities were much better. Finally I returned to Mumbai fully convinced that there is quite a slip between the cup and the lip. My sincere prayers to Lord Ganesha and best wishes on the occasion of 'Ganesh Chaturti' !!

12 comments:

Sylvia K said...

A very thought provoking post and I believe many people in many countries including mine, are asking many of the same questions. There does indeed seem to be a shortage of answers.

DebraLSchubert said...

Wow - and I thought the judicial system was messed up here in the U.S. (In a lot of ways, it is.) I'm so sorry to see this. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It's sad when this is clearly not the case.

Ugich Konitari said...

The cities and non-city area courts may differ in the premises and facilities for those who dispense and argue for justice, but the common man/woman who generated the case is the worst sufferer, and everyone's last priority. It is easier to go strictly by the book, rather than innovativly apply the mind within a given legal framework. So many stories. maybe I will blog abut it one day ....

Ranu said...

It is truly so sad !!! Y

Your entire life passes by in the pursuit of something concrete coming to you someday and that something is such a mirage at least the civil courts should be made faster and they should be penalized for any delays else people will lose faith in the judicial system and consider FATE more appropriate in most cases!!!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

There is a book by Charles Dickens called BLEAK HOUSE which deals with this very theme of justice delayed for years on end and how it degrades the litigants and corrupts the system. That was in nineteenth century England.

Your post and photos bring out a vivid parallel in 21st century India.

Kavi said...

These are very disturbing images. I always knew they existed. But your words and pictures paint a hue that is so 'life-filled' that i am left with a lump in my throat at the end of it all.

There has been quite a lot of noise about the Judiciary coming clean on assets of judges. I guess a good beginning can be made if it starts doing the work that its supposed to do. And that is delivering justice. For which the courts to function is a pre-requisite.

It is apalling to see the cross examination happening that way.

Neha said...

thank you for visiting my blog, because I got a change to read this post...you can say, some way I am a part of this sick legal system as I am a lawyer (not a litigation one though)..so many lawyers charge u a fat some for taking these "tariq pe tariq", so one's loss and other's gain applies here too..thank you for sharing this one..:)

Babli said...

I liked your post. Its really very very sad case about the old people who are getting harassed and nobody is bothered about them. The same respect should be given to them but very sorry to see that they are totally neglected in the society and are treated very badly. You have portrayed very nicely with the live pictures of the true fact which the people are facing and they are totally shattered and broken.

Freehit said...

Truly appalling and saddening. Justice delayed is definitely justice denied.

The lawyers could find time to go about rioting and damaging public property in Chennai earlier this year: http://slowelectron.blogspot.com/2009/02/legal-battle.html

syed ahamed saqi said...

Sir
Its a very thought provoking post. while we claim to have made great progress in various fields, i think the speed with which the courts proceed is definitely not one among them. while we say we have witnessed the IT revolution, then the telecom revolution.. i doubt if there ll be something like a legal-revolution.

what's more in a life of a person on trial for all his life, than endless wait , by the end of which the very meaning of justice means nothing.

while we celebrate to be free and happy... your post reminds us that the world around us is not indeed very happy. Belated wishes on Ganesh Chaturti sir..

Anu...:) said...

Well,our faith in judicial system does reduce day by day with descriptions like these.Some fields have grown and progressed..some have remained behind! its sad.

June Saville said...

Sad Sad ...
I am reminded of the horrific asbestos scandles in which the Australian (and now international) company James Hardie sold deadly asbestos goods to the world knowing they were doing so for thirty plus years. Thousands have died in many parts of the world and will continue to die for decades to come. And yes so far the executives of this company have received only fines and some disqualification from their jobs as directors ...
The law can certainly be an ass!