Monday, August 31, 2009

CJI 'indicts' judiciary

In a damning 'indictment' of incompetence and corruption in judiciary, the CJI of India Mr Balakrishnan has highlighted several of his concerns in a judicial conference. Here are some specific comments from news below:

CJI points to judges’ ignorance

Balakrishnan warned that several people wanted to delay the conclusion of criminal cases. “(But) Judges are supposed to prevent the abuse of law by those who want to delay the delivery of judgment,” he added, alluding to the judiciary’s concern at the high number of pending cases.

This is an indirect admission that judiciary is responsible for delay in criminal cases. Going by psychology and human motivation, a person does a thing when it benefits him/her in some way. If judiciary is responsible for delays, it means judiciary or some judges are beneficiary in some way of these delays. You can put 2 and 2 together.

Balakrishnan pointed out that Section 498 (A) (anti-dowry law) under CrPC was one of the most abused laws.

“Judges are simply issuing summons and even warrants without properly verifying who are the accused. I have come across such cases in which the accused, sitting in Australia and other countries, are made accused when the case is lodged for the alleged offence of dowry,” he added.

We usually read in judgments of high court or supreme court about appeal cases that a lower court did not exercise "application of mind" in deciding on a case. It is very clear from above that "application of mind" and sound common sense is not happening. A judge being an educated human being cannot be so incompetent to go against natural principles of justice and common sense. It is clear that there is corruption involved. Otherwise how would it be possible that a 2 months child was named as accused in a dowry case, it was accepted by court, and court gave bail also for the 2 month old kid. Is this justice or brutality of the worst kind?

Balakrishnan added that the criminal procedure code was amended for the police to follow certain procedures before arrests. “We have come across cases in which even high court judges are ignorant of the legal value of statements recorded before the police under Section 161 of the Evidence Act for delivering judgments,” he said.

Judges, judge your competence first.

Former Supreme Court judge S.B. Sinha pointed out that 70 per cent of all the pending criminal cases were petty offences. “Sociological studies suggest that it is the poor who suffer the most because of delay in the delivery of judgments,” he added.

The judicial and police system has become a tool for corrupt and powerful people to terrorize the rest of society and keep it in submission. This is akin to how foreign masters of a country would like to keep large parts of society under control and submission. So then question arises - did we achieve freedom in 1947 or that was just a transfer of power from brute foreign masters to brute Indian masters?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Judge among 4 held for 'immoral' acts

Here is story of another judge found caught in an act not so commensurate with his job duties:

Judge among 4 held for 'immoral' acts

Confirming the arrest, SSP Shrikant Jadhav said that police raided the premises after a resident of Punjabi Colony in Samalkha got suspicious about the activities in his neighbourhood and complained to the police. "We arrested all the four persons, including the civil judge, from the house. While the three accused were produced in a local court and sent to 14-day judicial custody, we are following the Supreme Court guidelines in dealing with the judge,'' he said.

Oh so cute, the 'common criminals' are sent to jail for 14 days, but the judge has to be given permission by another judge on what action can be taken against him! This exactly shows why there is urgent need for judicial accountability so that judges cannot escape the laws they themselves give judgment upon.

How police saves own head

Read story here:
Our dad is not a murderer

And now the family says the police is pressurising them to withdraw the case because it has become an embarrassment. The District Collector, too, asks them to clear out.

"He said it was illegal to sit here," said Roop Singh, the children's grandfather.

So it looks like the way to get justice in India is to cause embarassment to authorities. But be prepared to be treated like offenders yourselves for asking for justice.

The family said Alka was gangraped three years ago and the accused were never arrested. Broken by the injustice the couple drank poison. Alka died, but Sunil somehow survived and ironically, was later held for planning her murder.

India is a country of ineffective laws and then more laws to cover for previously ineffective laws. It is a clear case that the state and specifically police has led to abement of suicide of this couple one of who actually died. But they are probably trying to hide behind more laws because even attempt to suicide is a crime in India.

You can't live with justice. You are not allowed to die either. Vive la India.

Are women beggars? 50% reservation in panchayats is not enough

The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal to increase reservation for women to 50 per cent in Panchayats.

She had said since women suffer multiple deprivations of class, caste and gender, enhancing reservation in panchayats and urban local bodies would lead to more women entering the public sphere.

Well and good. But what powers do these panchayats really have? Can they allocate their own budgets? Can they collect funds or earmark funds for development? OR do they have to look upwards to some mai-baap to be able for their functioning.

By giving these 'doles', the real issue of empowerment of common people is kept at the sidelines. The mantra of governance in India today seems to the following:

1. Let rich and business class hobnob and get their ways around with policy making and regulation. Don't we remember the disastrous SEZ related experiments not so long ago?

2. Let middle classes be happy and smug based on some urban/metro centric propganda thrown by politicians and media centering around common themes like "India, the largest democracy", "India - a growth story", "India - Mera Bharat Mahan" and so on. Let Indian middle classes live under the illusion that they have civil liberties when all they have is some freedom of expression to voice opinions. Not anyone in middle class dares to go to police or courts when they face injustice either from state or in private matters. 95% the middle class is actually too busy to struggle with daily living issues like water, power, getting work done through government.

3. Placate poor classes by forever giving promises of development, empowerment, education, healthcare, abolition of child labour etc. Most poor have no access to state education or healthcare. Child labour is rampant inspite of laws against it. Once in a while give some high-sounding but inherently meaningless 'privilege' like 50% reservation for women in panchayats. Isn't that only means to an end? It is really not an outcome of development or empowerment by itself. That would be female literacy, healthcare, lesser rate of infant deaths etc, education for all girls etc. But by doing such acts of reservations, a kind of false hope is given that things are going to be fine very soon.

Demand service from police under Consumer Protection Act

Now it may be possible to get better service from police by invoking 'service' as per Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Consumer law can put cops in order

Excerpt from the news below:
Though the forum could have dismissed the complaint against the cops terming it ‘in limine’ (through which evidence or one of the parties can be excluded from legal proceedings), it issued a notice to the police seeking their reply. Also, in his reply, SHO of Sector-34 police station did not plead that the complaint was not maintainable and admitted that the vehicle had been stolen. The reply went, ‘Despite best efforts of police, the motorcycle could not be traced. In these circumstances, there is no deficiency in service on its part and the complaint deserves dismissal.’

On Monday, the forum, headed by its president Lakshman Sharma, said, ‘The complainants have failed to make any case of deficiency in service against UT police and complaint against (them) stands dismissed.’

Though the complaint was dismissed, it is clear that consumer forum has not disallowed Police being a party to a complaint under Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Also read following comments by consumer forum members:

Member of the forum, Siddheshwar Sharma said, ‘Services provided by department of posts, passport offices, universities, municipal corporations and even administration fall under the ambit of CP Act.’

Sources said there were other similar complaints in the pipeline as well. Jagroop Singh Mahal, president of another consumer forum, said, ‘Whenever there is non-performance of duty by a public authority, including police, people complain under CP Act.’

So it is time that citizens widen their horizons and think out-of-the-box to demand and get service. The tax paid by citizens can be used as the argument to demand service from police.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Addendum to SIFF press release

About Save Indian Family Foundation:
Save Indian Family Foundation, Bangalore is an NGO dedicated to promote the cause of Men’s rights, Gender Equality and Family Harmony. SIFF started as a website on March 10 2005 and now its movement with activities stretching across the country. In its five year SIFF has now around 30000 – 40000 families who have sought succour.

Why Judicial Reforms

Judicial reforms are the need of the Day in the Country. And the Reforms in the Family courts are even more urgent. A person can continue living a “normal” even if faced with criminal matter or been victim of crime in any fashion be it robbery or assault. However when faced with marital breakdown a persons life is put on hold till the verdict. Hence it is imperative that Marital Problem is given the highest priority and overhauling of system is important.
Just two days before there was judgement in Bombay high court where in after 14 years the husband was told that it is perfectly acceptable for a wife to harass him every day by quarrelling over petty and niggling issues or essentially not to meet any expectation that a man may have in marriage.

This could have been told at the outset instead of taking 14 years for the same.

There is comprehensive sense that is being developed that a wife can literally get away with anything short of murder. Be it ignoring court orders on visitation , Slapping a husband inside a court premises, assaulting and husband be not granted even the relief of disassociating from the relationship forget about civil relief or criminal complaints. Where as on the other hand without any fault on baseless allegation the entire Legal. Judicial machinery hounds the husband and his family.

What is needed in Judicial Reforms?

Judicial reforms is not about tinkering with a few process it needs overhaul in following direction

Change of Laws: There are two many laws in the country against the husband in civil, criminal and quasi criminal arena which do not have standard procedures of normal laws applied to them examples are the Domestic Violence Act and the Section 498a. There are also multifarious laws for a same relief. There are five laws on maintenance for standard of living from a husband. This needs to change and complete gender equity, equality and fairness be brought about. The laws need to harmonised and equalised by gender.

Change of Procedures, practices, presumptions and guidelines: There are multiple procedures which tend to become procedural harassment of the husband and there families. This should change. The heavy procedure need to be lightened and made more litigant friendly. A key example is on handling cases where in a husband (wife) is from out of station. In such a case the standard practice should be to provide two or three continuous dates so that the out of station person can take leave etc. It has become a procedure for the cases to be transferred to the place of wife’s liking. This should change and the convenience of a working person should be taken into consideration as there is far more stakeholders who need to be aligned for working spouse. To not allow more then 2 interim application would be useful guideline. There is a legal and social presumption which is best described by the Victim Women Criminal Men Syndrome which needs to change and =it’s time for the entire system to get out of this trap.

Change in the current Transparency on dates and estimated dates on the court cases.

In India getting a reservation or attending the courts at a short notice puts a burden on litigants and litigants are clearly interested in knowing when will I get my decision .It is imperative that within 2 months the courts provide a schedule of dates and activity that will be conducted so that the litigant is clearly aware of the stages and phases and prepare accordingly. The judiciary can very take the help of project management expertise of the Ex- litigants for this matter. SIFF is willing to provide this expertise.

USE Technology: Involve litigants in defining the requirements of the computerisation process

Change in Attitude

The judiciary should not expect to be a great sermons speaking from Ivory tower. They should clearly be aware of the difference in Matrimonial relief like divorce or child custody. The shift in attitude for family related cases are more in the nature of I am here to resolve the disputes and allow the parties to live a happy life. Currently there is an attitude that is felt that one should use laws, procedure, guidelines, practices and spurious arguments everything against a husband seeking relief.

That daily mental torture of arguments was not found sufficient for the small relief of merely dissolving the marriage by high court of Mumbai speaks of an attitude which has become completely numb towards the emotional and mental well being requirements of husbands. Such allegations made by women would have been called domestic Violence

A High Court Justice Raghuram of Andhra Pradesh mentioned in the SIFF Seminar in VIZAG that NGOs act as teachers of Judiciary. It is imperative that The judiciary interact with NGOs which do have the welfare of men and their families at hand like SIFF, CRISP, PURE, SFF, SFO etc. to understand and learn the emotional, mental requirements of the husbands as well. There are too many interactions which are focussed on the female gender by the judiciary. It is imperative to understand the needs, feelings, emotions of the male gender as well empathetically by all the actors of the legal system. Ideally the entire family court judges should take one

Women’s NGO and one Men’s NGO for review

There is a chance of more harmonious Litigation when the both parties feel that the judge has their best interests in mind and will take care of it. Today, that a judicial officer has the best interest of the husband is neither evident nor visible. There is feeling that there is huge disparity in terms of support provided by all the actors of the legal system; be they be the law, lawyer, judge, mediator, police or their mindset and they all act with husband as a target with a view to milk him.

There has never been even an iota of attempt by the entire legal / police fraternity to understand or engage on the husband’s rights, expectations, and requirements from the legal system in terms.

What we want
In a nutshell We want the Judicial reforms to include the intent for even husbands to get the relevant relief and justice , get out of the court battle and move on with life and restore our faith in the justice system

Supreme Court judges to declare wealth on web site

Supreme court judges have finally relented since their own ranks had broken down when few high court judges voluntarily declared assets:

This is actually a victory of good sense over childlike stubbornness of a few judges, who are so afraid of being thrown behind bars due to false cases once their assets are public knowledge.

Kudos again to Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of Karnataka HC for bringing the whole supreme court judiciary to see the light of future and not be stuck in the past.

Finally, why is declaration of assets important? Do people not trust the judiciary anymore? I am afraid there were doubts in public after scams like 15 lakh cash at doorstep of HC judge etc. This is a first step to restore confidence of public in high judiciary.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gujarat HC orders action against rural magistrate

In a clear case of what may be rotting the judiciary or maybe only few rotten apples, here is a story from Gujarat:
HC orders action against rural magistrate

The Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday, ordered administrative action against a Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) appointed at Ahmedabad Rural Court for his conduct while handling a criminal complaint of forgery and allied charges. Calling the conduct of the magistrate intolerable, court of Justice M R Shah also passed strictures against him.

Justice Shah ordered the action after quashing five orders of the magistrate, which he stated were not in consonance with the law and where the magistrate had ‘tried to facilitate the accused persons’.

The last part is very dangerous and if such incidents continue to happen the faith of people in judiciary will come down further.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SIFF: Press release for Judicial Reforms

About Save Indian Family Foundation:
Save Indian Family Foundation, Bangalore is an NGO dedicated to promote the cause of Gender Equality and Family Harmony. We commandeer the cause of those grief stricken families who are victimized by the misuse of laws like Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, Section 125 CrPC, Child Custody laws to name a few.

Press release: Urgent need for Judicial and Administrative Reforms

Judicial reforms are the call of the day in wake of deteriorating trust and faith of people on the judiciary. The pile of pending cases repeatedly reported in various media reports is acting as a catalyst to the deterioration. People are even taking law in their own hands being exasperated of either of no hope or inaction from the judiciary.

Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh has recently highlighted the need for an “an arrear free judicial institution” during joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of the high courts in New Delhi. He also has stated that “Indian judiciary, despite its strengths, brilliance and dynamism, had to suffer the scourge of having the world’s largest backlog of cases and timelines that generate surprise globally and concern at home.”

At the same conference, Hon Chief Justice of Supreme Court Balakrishnan has said that over 3.11 crore cases were pending in trial courts and high courts across the country. He said that 52,592 cases were pending before the Supreme Court, over 40 lakh cases in the high courts and a whopping 2.71 crore cases in the subordinate courts.

SIFF requires following demands be considered urgently for Judicial Reforms:
• There is urgent need to come down with heavy hands and imposition of fine/costs on frivolous litigations in the name of PIL etc. Frivolous, absurd, and morally correct litigations like Shilpa Shetty kissing Richard Gere are not something the judiciary should waste time on. Many a time such cases are filed in multiple locations by advocates representing some frivolous cause or in the name of PIL. Courts should impose exemplary fine for such frivolous litigation to make an example for advocates and others abusing judicial process.
• No new law/law amendment to be passed by the Parliament Houses unless judicial reforms are not put in place.
• Reportedly even justices of Supreme Court are afraid of frivolous litigation and this is the reason advanced for their opposition to declaration of judges’ assets. It shows lack of faith in judicial process in minds of justices of the Supreme Court themselves. It shows the situation is very serious and steps must be taken to curb frivolous litigation by payment of exemplary fines through statutes and judicial precedents.
• It should be mandatory for judges to disclose their assets. This is in line with requirements for many government posts and also for people willing to contest elections under the Representation of Peoples act 1951.
• Computerization of all court records, case details and case status in order to determine the load on a particular date, before next date is given. Often it happens that on some days there is a lot of load on the courts while on other days it is relatively less burdened. Such random fluctuations of work pressure can be reasonably smoothened with the help of IT and computerization. Other benefits include prior notification to litigants if the judge is on leave on a particular date.
• If 3 consecutive dates pass in a case and no progress happen then the judge/magistrate should be held responsible for that.
• Increased transparency into the functioning and administration of courts via enhanced respect of applications filed under the Right to Information Act.
• Provision of suo motu inquiry on all the judges involved in cases which are more than 5 years old. Failure to co-operate with the inquiry should lead to automatic termination of the service of the judge.
• The third report of the National Police Commission had raised serious concerns on unnecessary arrests by police and said that 60% of arrests by police are unnecessary and are accounting for 43.2% of jail expenditure. In the year 2007, 68 lakh persons were arrested out of which 40 lakh were unnecessary as per the National Police Commission report. Unnecessary arrests also lead to higher amount of expenditure and delay in courts due to bail hearings etc. The CrPC Amendment should be enforced as it has already been notified as an Act, to help in better enforcement of laws without violating human rights and constitutional rights of citizens. It will also ensure that courts are not over-burdened by false cases, thereby speeding up the process of delivering justice in genuine cases.
• There is urgent need for more training and sensitization in police ranks, they being the first point of contact for people in need of justice. It has been seen that a case had reached the Supreme Court only to reach the conclusion that prima facie the case lacked merits. A competent and impartial police and trial courts will avoid the waste of such needless litigation all the way to the Supreme Court.
• Law minister Mr Moily and Chief Justice Balakrishnan have stated that 70 per cent of prisoners in the jails are under-trials. If any under-trial has served more than the punishment stipulated by the law, he or she should be set free.
• The fear of Contempt of Court is lurking like a dead ghost over law-abiding litigants and media who are terrorized to raise their voice against injustices going on against them due to judicial complacency, stereotypic assumptions and overstretched judicial leniency. The concept of Contempt of Court needs to be redefined objectively like a statute. People’s right to freedom of expression need to be balanced against contempt of courts.
• Form study circles with leaders from Save Indian Family movement who are acquitted of 498A cases, some high scholars and a few High Court judges to study husband’s issues.
• Granting of bail under Section 498a should be a norm rather than an exception and the granted bail should not attract stringent conditions rendering it ineffective in spirit if not in letter.
• Respect the dignity of husbands and fathers.

Reforms required under Family law -- matrimonial, and child custody cases:

• Alimony for qualified professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, MBAs, CAs and the likes should be rejected prima facie and concept of lifetime parasitism be replaced by a better concept to provide interest free sustenance loans returnable in 3-5 years upon obtaining gainful employment. Voluntary incapacitation by capable spouses asking for maintenance should be made a punishable offense to discourage it. Moreover interim maintenance should not be allowed to be used as a dole leading to treatment of husbands as FREE ATM MACHINES.
• Multiple provisions for maintenance viz. Domestic Violence Act, Section 125 CrPC, Section 18 – HMA, Section 24 – HAMA etc. should be simplified and normalized to one single provision as people are entangled in multiple litigations for the same alleged cause of action leading to infringement of Constitutional Rights vide Article 20,21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution.
• If a party in matrimonial disputes gives false allegations relating to spouse or child abuse, no relief should be awarded and instead exemplary fines and costs should be imposed on that party.
• Current practice in child custody cases under GWA 1890 is to grant full custody to custodial parent and trivial visitation rights to non-custodial parent. There is no application of mind as to how this is beneficial to child’s growth and development into a responsible adult. Sec 13 of HMGA 1956 clearly states that Welfare of minor is to be paramount interest in case of guardianship or custody. Accordingly in interest of child’s welfare courts should give joint custody to both parents as a norm unless one parent is proved to be of deviant, irresponsible, or criminal behaviour. This would be in line with natural principle that raising children is shared responsibility of both parents. Anything short of that is a violation both of judicial statutes and basic rights of child to have love and affection of both parents.
• For child custody related cases, visitation to fathers should be granted in either one month of filing or two hearings, whichever is earlier. Also the visitation granted should be of such nature that it builds a sustainable parent child relationship. It has been seen that courts are granting visitation of 1 hour per month to father thereby reducing status of fathers (mostly) to mere acquaintance of child. Numerous studies have shown the harmful effects of children growing without contact with fathers leading to parental alienation syndrome (PAS) and consequent increase in suicides, teenage pregnancies, and crime rate as adults etc.
• Any kind of doctoring or tutoring a child’s mind against other parent should be treated on par with child abuse and against child’s growth and development. Courts should grant full custody to the other parent in such cases to deter a parent from using children as tools to solve their own personal grievances.

Reforms required in family courts:

Some of the problems and issues which prompted the need of Judicial Reforms in family court cases and suggestions are as follows:
• The Youth and vigour of Young Women and Men are lost by the time the Family Court renders it decision - be it Just or unjust. Marital cases filed more than two years back, and still in the pending stage should be disposed off in the next six months as a compensation for the time litigants have already lost due to judicial delays in cases. This will lead to drastic unloading of the unwarranted pressure on the courts to meet targets.
• Statutory mandate of law for disposal of cases by 6 months and day to day hearing is not at all followed by the Family Courts.
• The Rules framed by the High Court to dispose of cases at least within one year is flouted by granting long, luxurious and indefinite adjournments by Family Courts.
• Even when the High Court orders specific time limits for disposal of particular cases, the Family Courts do not respect such orders.
• No rules at the discretion of the Family Court as provided in the Family Court Act are also framed.
• While the Act requires recording of the gist of evidence only, the Courts elaborately records every word uttered by the witnesses religiously thus wasting the precious judicial time.
• In the name of appointing of Amicus Curie's the Family Courts are taken over by advocates, though the Family Courts Act vide. Section 9 and 10 has specifically banned appearance by Advocates.
• Practicing lawyers of family Court are appointed as counsellors and mediators thereby defeating the purpose of counselling and mediation.

Thanks and Regards
Public Relations Officer
Save Indian Family Foundation, Bangalore

Friday, August 21, 2009

Courts reject move to appoint judges on merit

Recent news from 3 day conference of justices of high courts:

Courts reject move to appoint judges on merit

Excerpts of relevant portion of news with my comments later:

The proposal was based recommendations of the Law Commission of India and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

The issue was discussed again in this year’s conference, which concluded on Sunday.

“The high courts will consider entrusting recruitment up to 25 per cent posts in higher judicial service, required to be filled-up by direct recruitment, on an all India basis and send their views to the Supreme Court,” stated the resolution.

The agenda document circulated to top judges for this year’s conference said: “It has been outrightly rejected by high courts of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Guwahati, Gujarat, Allahabad, Uttaranchal, Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab & Haryana, Madras, Patna and Kerala.”

High court judges are appointed by a committee of seniormost judges (collegium), a system which has been under criticism for lack of transparency.

Now what do we see here. There is a proposal based on recommendations by Law Commission of India and a parliamentary standing committee. This relates to appointment of judges to high courts. At same conference, PM Dr Manmohan Singh has emphasized need to reduce arrears of cases in courts including high courts. One of the reason for arrears is lack of judges and posts lying vacant in courts.

The stand taken by majority of chief justices of high courts betrays a lack of application of mind to problems faced by citizens of India in getting access to justice. Whether they are right or wrong in their stand is a matter of debate. But it seems clear that they are more than satisfied with a system which is less than transparent, and does not ameliorate the problems faced by common man.

Coming on heels of opposition to declaration of judges' assets by chief justice of India, it is unfortunate that judiciary is not setting examples where they are seen as answerable and accessible to people of India.

Kudos to Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court

Kudos is due to this judge of Karnataka High Court for clearing the stand of judges on declaration of assets. Read below:

CJI can't speak for all on assets issue: Karnataka HC judge

Excerpt from news story below:

In the first open dissent by a sitting judge against the Chief Justice of India’s stand on declaration of assets by the higher judiciary, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court has said that “it’s a misnomer to think that the judges of the superior courts are not ready to disclose their assets.”

Referring to CJI KG Balakrishnan's remarks that judges could be harassed if their assets were made public, Kumar wrote, "On a legal place the CJI does not have the authority to speak for all judges of the Supreme Court, or High Courts, unless any of them have either confided in the Chief Justice or have authorised him to speak on behalf of others."

It is a sign of a vibrant judiciary that there be a healthy debate within judiciary on merits of issues like declaration of judges' assets. These are issues of national importance and cannot be the purview merely of top judiciary or a commission.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ministry of Home Affairs rethinking on CrPC amendments

The issue of CrPC amendment is again gathering steam now... or rather some well-meaning souls are trying to put life back into a half dead act which has not been notified.

CrPC amendments: MHA asks law panel to suggest way out

Some excerpts and my comments:

Strong protests by lawyers, who are opposed to one of the amendments on the ground that it gives discretionary powers to police not to arrest a person involved in an offence having maximum sentence of seven years, has forced the MHA to do a rethink on whether or not to notify the amendments.

As if the public thinks lawyers are the thought-leaders and ideals in Indian society? Who are the lawyers trying to benefit but themselves, since they will have to forego the daily bread and butter involved in arranging bail etc after the needless arrests are made.

Sources in the MHA said one reason for this amendment was that every year lakhs of innocent people are arrested without any basis. Even the third report of the National Police Commission had said that about 60 per cent of the arrests in the country were unnecessary and unjustified.

Unnecessary arrests are the real issue. Without police reforms and better trained police, one cannot expect police to exercise good judgment and proper investigation before arrests. Till that is done, it is best to do away with provisions which give police arbitrary powers and help to become instruments in hands of powerful people to settle scores against adversaries by putting false cases.

PIL in Gujarat HC on delays in maintenance cases

The judicial system is India is creaking in all places. Read news below about a PIL filed in Gujarat HC.

There is gross delay in granting alimony , PIL tells high court

The counsel further submitted that despite clear-cut provisions in CrPC and positive directions of the high court "it is observed that the victims and the needy people for maintenance are loitering in family courts for many months, and sometime years together, but effective, speedy and actual justice is not delivered to them within the stipulated time-frame of60 days''.

Giving examples, the counsel submitted that whenever the maintenance application is filed before the family court, the first hearing date is fixed after three months and for old pending applications, the hearing is adjourned for two to three months. This is as per the details obtained from the adjournment chart and the board maintained by the court, he submitted.

It is sometimes a wonder whether all those who claim India as largest democracy, largest this and largest that really have any sense of pain about common citizens who are at receiving end of judicial delays?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CJs want power supply to courts, what says PM now?

The recent news of PM exhorting about need to remove backlog of court cases has got an interesting rejoinder from the justices of courts.

Backlog? First ensure power supply, say CJs

“Do you expect a trial court judge to achieve the case disposal target when he has to sit all day under a fan that stands still and a court room that is packed with litigants creating an unworkable condition? They are not asking for air-conditioners but electricity to make the fan whirl,” said a CJ protesting against perpetual criticism faced by judiciary for the pendency.

This concern found a prominent reflection in the 21-point resolution passed by the chief justices. “The CJs of HCs shall take up the matter with the state governments on the aspect of supply of electricity to subordinate courts during working hours and to impress upon the state governments to ensure that no power cuts be allowed during court working hours and generator sets, as back up supply for electricity, be installed in court complexes, especially in the rural areas having acute power shortage,” the resolution said.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another SC judge recuses from provident fund siphoning case

What exactly is wrong with attitude of senior judiciary? Yes, we are not talking about District or even High court, but judges of the supreme court!

They don' t want to be subject to the same rules which they wholeheartedly want other public servants and public to follow.

Read news of recent 'altercation' between SC judge and SC lawyers:

Some excerpts from news and my comments follow:

“I am not a sanyasi that I can keep my cool,” Justice B.N. Agarwal said and withdrew from the case after warning senior counsel and former law minister Shanti Bhushan not to argue like a “street urchin”.

Isn't this more of an emotional tantrum where judge wants to show himself off as a responsible parent in face of childish behaviour from senior lawyer? Let's see next what did lawyer say to judge.

When the court reconvened today after yesterday’s daylong hearing, Agarwal took offence at Bhushan’s argument that Balakrishnan’s instructions gave the impression that the court was trying to shield “corrupt” judicial officers.

“These remarks are contemptuous,” Agarwal thundered.

Yes of course. In name of contempt of court, everyone including media, common people, and bloggers like me are scared to say anything which might be construed as contempt of court. And who decides what is contempt of court? Of course the judges!

Sparks flew again when Bhushan Senior contended that an earlier judgment, which makes the Chief Justice’s nod mandatory to file an FIR or a chargesheet against a sitting judge, should not apply in this case.

“Public confidence demands that the court order a free and impartial inquiry into the case,” he argued.

“If that protection is removed, what will happen to the independence of the judiciary?” Agarwal replied. “Cases will be filed against honest judges and they will be arrested and thrown in jails.”

But Bhushan insisted that the role of the judges in the scam be probed under the general criminal law which applies to all.

If they are honest, nothing will come out of the probe, he said. “The Supreme Court should not give the impression that it is trying to shield corrupt judicial officers,” he repeated.

Exactly. Mr Bhushan has said it clearly what is nagging the minds of common public of India for so long. If common public, and even politicians can face false charges and be ready to face trial; what is so special about judges?

The concept being touted about is independence of judiciary. Is protection from false cases alone enough to ensure independence of judiciary? What about lure of money which corrupt politicians and businesspeople may be too ready to shower upon judiciary? How do we ensure judiciary remains independent from that?

“You have no respect for anybody. Not even one judge of the Supreme Court,” Agarwal fumed and then passed orders saying that “since it was not conducive to hear the case” he was recusing himself.

Well Mr judge of Supreme Court, even common people are losing faith in judges of SC. It was Chief Justice of supreme court who recently said that judges should not be pressed to declare their assets because it may lead to false cases against them. Then who protects common public when common people have to face false cases, many a time with support of corrupt police and executive? People in responsible positions should gladly accept *higher* standards of disclosure than common public! It is upto them to suggest ways how false cases can be avoided or such people punished for filing false cases. You cannot simply shirk away this responsibility with a holier-than-thou attitude.

Now another supreme court judge has recused himself from the case. What kind of a game is this where judges simply recuse themselves from an important case, which involves pension money of common people?

Indian police encourages abuses: Human Rights Watch

From recent news:
The US-based group Human Rights Watch said "India is modernising rapidly, but the police continue to use their old methods: abuse and threats."

"India's policing system facilitates and even encourages abuses," the 118-page report said.

It said there has been little change in attitudes, training or equipment since the police was formed in colonial times with the aim to control the population.

Read full news:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Govt backtraces on judges' asset declaration in bill

What was the govt and law minister Mr Moily thinking? That they will allow judges to 'declare' assets but not made public? Declare but not public means declare to other judges? Right, what does 'declare' mean ? Declare to my family? To my pets? Read news below:

Exceprt from the news:

Opposition leader and BJP member Arun Jaitley argued, "Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which has been applied to any person anywhere in the country who is desirous of contesting an election - his assets are to be made public. But a different interpretation will now have to be given when it comes to assets of judges, the same cannot be made public."

Now politicians have been declaring assets without fail both in Lok Sabha and MLA elections. Some of the MPs have declared assets in excess of 500 Cr. That has not led to any false or frivolous cases being filed against MPs. Because people will not hound someone if there is nothing to hide. Declaration of assets and transparency leads to more trust in minds of public and hence leads to higher governance standards and overall efficiency.

Judges should now hold themselves accountable to the same high standards to which they have been holding others. Else what right do they have to sit in judgment?