16 Aug 2019
GS Paper 2
Polity & Governance
The inefficient administration of justice has not only social but also economic costs. Do you agree? Substantiate your answer with arguments.
- Write about the importance of the judiciary in a democracy.
- Write about the social and economic impacts of inefficient justice delivery.
- Give suggestions to improve the situation.
- Conclude by giving the need for effective judicial system and the approach to be taken.
Judiciary is the key pillar of Indian democracy. Judiciary is not only the guarantor and protector of fundamental rights of the people but also plays a critical role in nation’s growth. Thus, the constitutional principle of justice-social and economic can only be achieved when judiciary functions efficiently.
Indian judiciary is facing acute crisis which has resulted in huge pendency of cases. The social impacts of such delays are:
- Denial of ‘timely justice’ amounts to denial of ‘justice’ itself: Timely disposal of cases is essential to maintain rule of law and provide access to justice. Speedy trial is a part of right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Erodes social infrastructure: A weak judiciary has a negative effect on social development, which leads to: lower per capita income; higher poverty rates; poorer public infrastructure; and, higher crime rates.
- Affects human rights: Overcrowding of prisons, delayed justice thereby incarceration of poor,“violation of human rights”.
The inefficient administration of justice has not only social but also economic costs. It affects the economy of the country as it was estimated that judicial delays cost India around 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product annually.
Economic costs associated with ineffective judiciary are:
- It deters new investments in India. Poor contract enforcement tends to increase the risk and reduce the returns (increased legal costs), thus affecting the overall risk to return ratio.
- India continues to fair badly in ‘Enforcement of Contracts’ parameter of World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index.
- Pendency leads to spiraling legal expenses of Corporate India. Due to lack of effective Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, big corporates prefer to take their arbitration to jurisdictions like Dubai and Singapore.
- Poor contract enforcement mechanisms also lead to spurt of informal and often illegal channels of dispute resolution. This creates problems such as increased corruption and the undermining of the rule of law.
- As per the Economic Survey 2017-18, pendency hampers growth, stall projects, hamper tax collection and escalate legal costs which lead to Increasing cost of doing business.
Following steps can be taken to improve the administration of justice:
- Increasing the number of courts and judges by filling up the vacant posts.
- Improving physical infrastructure and digitization of processes to reduce administrative delays.
- Courts may revisit the size and scale of their discretionary jurisdictions and avoid resorting to them unless necessary (this can help reclaim the Constitutional and Writ stature of the higher judiciary as originally envisaged).
- Downsizing or removing original and commercial jurisdiction of High Courts and enabling the lower judiciary to deal with such cases can also speed things up.
- Promoting rosters with specialization in higher judiciary. For example: Supreme Court’s recent experiment with constituting an exclusive bench for taxation produced impressive results.
The fundamental requirement of a good judicial administration is accessibility, affordability and speedy justice. This will not be realized until and unless the justice delivery system is made within the reach of the individual in a time bound manner and within a reasonable cost. Therefore, continuous formative assessment is the key to strengthen and reinforce the justice delivery system in India.