Saturday, November 1, 2014

Jury service and e-hearing - dealing with shortage of judges

Justice delayed is justice denied

The number of cases pending in our courts is mind boggling. Apart from inadequate infrastructure, legal assistants and archaic process, the biggest contributor to this problem is the huge shortage of judges which is inhibiting our courts to take up and close more cases. It is estimated that about 2.5 Crores (as of mid 2013) cases are pending in lower courts.

We will tackle this problem both by re-instating a practice from the past, the jury trial process and embracing modern technology enabled tool, the e-hearing process. 

Jury trial basically will be implemented as a process of identifying and comprising a panel of regular citizens of good legal standing from all walks of life (education NOT being a criteria). The panel is expected to be neutral and arrive at a verdict by sitting through all the court proceedings of the case they are appointed for. Severe action will be taken against anyone found to attempt influencing the jury members through cash or kind favors or threats. It will be a criminal offence. The employers of any selected jury member will be mandated to allow them to stay away from work when on jury duty with full pay not considering those days as vacations. Jury trial is nothing new, this existed in British India. Because of the pretty much one sided rules in composing the jury and verdicts that came out of it, it did not find any place in the post independence constitution. Law commission recommended its abolition in 1958 and 1973 Code of criminal procedures banned it. It is expected that one legal expert can guide multiple juries instead sitting through all proceedings them self, this way increasing the efficiency of our courts

With significant and reliable advancement in video conference and modern communication technologies, we will start legalizing court proceedings attended from remote locations through video conference (VC). This will drastically minimize instances of adjournment of hearing because of non-availability of the plaintiff, judge or any of the required participants. All police stations will be equipped with VC facility  which can be used by citizens free of cost to attend any court proceedings.

To add rigor in their adoption and clearing the legal logjam ASAP, these methods from now will be the default systems of hearing for any new case registered from 1-Jan-2015 unless there is convincing reasons to go for the traditional method.

We must understand that any change will take its time to settle down and we need to invest more time and money in the beginning to make it a success. I am confident that by taking such bold and positive steps, we will see significant drop in the pending cases in a few years to come.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mercy petition

Recently the Tamil Nadu assembly passed an unanimous resolution asking the President to reconsider the clemency appeal submitted by three of the death sentenced Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan who were involved in the killing of former Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. The Chief Minister J.Jayalalitha stated that this is done to 'respect the sentiments of the people of the state'.
  1. There is no fool proof way to measure the correct sentiments of the public
  2. We cannot hide from the fact that the members of the assembly or parliament are not anymore the true representatives of the aam janta.
  3. More importantly, judgments cannot be amended based on reported sentiments. This is equivalent to disobey the laws we have made to run the nation.
Omar's tweet responding to the Tamil Nadu assembly resolution is interesting. A fair question that would arise in anybody's mind. We do not want TN assembly to set precedence on this. In no time J&K could come with a resolution favoring Afzal Guru and Punjab favoring Devender Pal Singh Bhullar's and so on...

Once Supreme court sentences someone to death, ideally, there must not be anything above it. The provision for President to overrule it is meant for just the rarest of rare cases. These days, almost all death sentence go up to the President's office.

From today, our nation will adopt the below on mercy petitions to the President:
  1. The mercy petition filed to the President's office will bear an expiry date of 3 years from the date of receipt post which it defaults to the Supreme Court's original decision
  2. There cannot be any debate or re-appeal by any government body or individual or institution once the president's decision is announced
  3. Act of terrorism, proven planned homicide and genocide cannot appeal for mercy from the President

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Educating our MPs

For decades the question of setting an eligibility for our politicians has always been a debate without any outcome.

It is definitely a difficult decision. No university degree can ensure honesty and leadership, neither the absence of it. With the sad state of prevalent corruption there is always the fear of people purchasing such degrees if it is mandated, defeating the very purpose.

Our history has always seen remarkable leaders who were not academically educated and we cannot miss an opportunity of someone who could emerge like that in future too.

I would like to come up with a plan which will not restrict the entry into politics but once in, I will enforce the basics.

1. No eligibility for the first time MPs
2. Once they are in, they must undergo a 3-4 years of training(within the 5 years term). The curriculum and course will be defined by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. It will include Indian history, economics, political science, geography as the basics.
3. A basic grade will be required to be accomplished for anyone to become an MP again, they can continue their studies if they lose their Membership of parliament democratically but the cost must be then borne by their party/self.
4. Anyone to become a cabinet minister MUST have completed an advanced course prescribed by the board.

Our growth speed cannot be continued anymore with ignorance in power.