Justice delayed is justice denied
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the common people who resorted to courts to get their issues resolved will have to wait endlessly to get their cases listed for hearings. Not only have the functioning in the courts like other offices been affected but the virtual mode that is being adopted to hear cases of utmost importance have failed to achieve the desired results.
India is already lagging in getting the cases listed for hearings. Though ensuring speedy disposal of cases in the courts has to be the key areas but it seems that litigants will have to wait for many more months to get their cases listed and in most cases redressed.
The Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is also one o the regions where a long list o cases is pending for disposal. Reports suggest that more than three lakh cases are pending for want of disposal.
An insight into the work load of the Courts at different levels and the work accomplished by them in JK notwithstanding, there still are more than three lakh cases that are pending in the Jammu and Kashmir high court and subordinate courts.
There are many reasons as to why a staggering figure of more than three lakh cases are pending in the courts. One being the uncertainty over the situation in the Valley as often strikes and shut-down too play its part.
Besides, efforts to bring in work efficiency in the courts has never been a priority for the governments that ruled the erstwhile state for long. Here the onus lies on both the federal and the state government.
Notably, in 2007 the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, announced the introduction of e-Courts Mission Mode. This scheme that was introduced in the courts was devised mainly to overcome the difficult issue of huge pendency and also the long delays in meting out justice.
Consequently, a comprehensive scheme was formulated which was commonly referred to as e-Courts Mission Mode. The purpose was to introduce the latest skills of information and communication technology into the judicial system and especially in handling the under trial and jailed cases.
For the implementation of the e-Courts Mission Project, video conferencing equipments for 14 jails-Central Jails of Kot Bhalwal and Srinagar, district jails of Jammu, Kishtwar, Kathua, Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur, Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara, Leh and sub-jails of Hiranagar and Reasi and 12 District Court Complexes Jammu, Kathua, Rajouri, Reasi, Kishtwar, Udhampur, Poonch, Srinagar, Anantnag, Kupwara, Baramulla and Leh were provided during February 2015 and October 2015.
However, the report of the CAG later in 2018 on the performance of these devices noted that it was dismal and depressing. The report said that only five out of 48 identified courts were found exclusively computerized during the audit while as in 25 courts filing of cases was found exclusively manual and in 18 courts filing of cases was found partially computerized. There were other discrepancies as well.
This dismal performance simply means that the scheme has primarily because the courts lack expert manpower to handle the gadgets. The results that we find today are not encouraging and these should become the catalyst for the policy planners to reconsider the entire scheme with the single important objective of how it can be made effective that too in times of pandemic.