Expressing concern over the pendency of cases resulting in huge delays and denial of justice, Supreme Court judge Justice A M Khanwilkar Saturday said that at least 90 per cent people give up their claim to the justice. He added that there was only 10 to 15 per cent citizens who have an access to the justice system in India.
Delivering an inaugural address at the Himachal Pradesh High Court, Justice Khanwilkar said that a large section of people don’t get access to justice due to multiple reasons and end up suffering because of the pitfall in the country’s judicial system.
He appealed to the lawyers to play a pro-active role in making easy access to justice — not only for the deprived and the poor but also a section of the lower middle class. Justice Khanwilkar, who was speaking on “access to justice and duties of members of the bar”, also raised some questions on why “deserving” lawyers were not opting to become judges even as the country was facing shortage of judges to decide on cases pending for years, few dating dating back to 1976. The courts have to ponder over the question of such prolonged delays.
Formerly Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, Justice Khanwilkar spoke about unequal opportuniies for litigants and lack of awareness of rights and remedies, insufficient judge ratio and the need to to be focus on the present time. He admitted that justice has become expensive, not only due to high court fee but also legal services charges even as the lawyers were becoming richer.
Some of the major reasons, Justice Khanwilkar chose to highlight, included repeated adjournments being sought by lawyers and also multiplicity of legal forums which frustrates the litigants. Insufficient number of judges as compared to cases instituted and lack of training in subjects to upgrade the skills of the judges are some of the other reasons highlighted by him.
He also made a fervent plea for use of Information technology (IT) solutions in the management of cases, which Justice Khanwilkar believed will give a real impetus to delivery of justice and bringing transparency and greater accountability.This will also remove the feeling among litigants about being ignored.
Justice Khanwilkar mooted the proposal of setting up a legal aid platform for providing services to lower middle class people, which neither fall in the category of the economically weaker section nor rich or non-marginal.
Earlier, Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir spoke about the Constitutional safeguards guaranteed to the million people with diversity of language, culture, religion, custom, habit and way of living. Interests of minorities, Dalits, backward classes and indigenous tribes were also to be safeguarded.
Justice Mir said that the judiciary occupies an important place in the Constitution and it acts as a protector of fundamental rights of Indian citizens and guardian of the Constitution.