Judiciary, one of the three pillars of the democracy in India, is facing major crisis due to the twin plagues of “vacancies” and “inexperience.”
As per statement given by nominated Rajya Sabha Member P. Wilson on Tuesday, the High Courts in the country are running at fifty per cent of their sanctioned capacity.
Pointing out the alarming emergency, Wilson said, “Due to retirements and elevations, the vacancies continue to increase. Therefore, in my view, if this situation continues, the functioning of the High Courts throughout the country will be totally crippled, which does not benefit national interest,” Wilson said.
“Access to justice is an inalienable fundamental right of citizens. This right is defeated if our higher judiciary is crippled due to vacancies. People should not lose faith in the judiciary and adopt extra-constitutional methods due to the delay in disposal of cases,” he added.
On the contrary, while responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha on the judicial vacancies, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responded that “there are 395 number of posts of the judges vacant in various High Courts.”
“The proposals recommended by High Courts Collegiums for appointment of Judges are under various stages of processing with the Government and Supreme Court Collegium as per the procedure prescribed in Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).
“Filling up of vacancies in the High Courts is a collaborative and integrated process, between the Executive and the Judiciary. It requires consultation and approval from various Constitutional Authorities both at the Centre and states. Hence, total time taken in the process of appointment cannot be indicated,” Prasad said.
While the vacancies in the Indian Judicial System remains a poignant issue, another such problem which is hindering the light of justice in the country is the inexperience of the trial court judges.
A recent report by think tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy claimed that Civil judges and judicial magistrates in India are too young and consequently they lack “significant life experiences”.
The report titled – Schooling the Judges: The Selection and Training of Civil Judges and Judicial Magistrates, stated, “The average age of new judges who are being appointed as Civil Judges and Judicial Magistrates, as per our calculations, based on one year’s data is between 26-27 years except in Kerala where the average age is 33 years. Not only are such candidates likely to have little to no experience at the bar, they are also unlikely to have significant life experiences having lived a sheltered experience with their parents or on a university campus.”
“Even though the lowest tier of the judiciary is the first point of contact for most litigants and handles the largest volume of cases, systemic issues in this tier are not given as high a priority as they deserve,” the report read further.
The report penned by Prashant Reddy, Reshma Shekhar and Vagda Galhotra concluded, “RTI responses and transcripts of personal interviews of sitting judicial officers, and concludes with a qualitative compilation of how academies are ill-equipped to train judges, methods of teaching utilized towards training, and the inadequacies of clinical legal education in these academies.”
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