The author is trying to co relate the observations made by Mr. Justice D.Y
Chandrachud in webinar titled as Future of Virtual Court and Access to
Justice in India
conducted by Nyaya Forum on 24/5/2020 with the necessity
of strengthening District Courts all over India and how to make lower judiciary
more strong and effective
To improve the quality of imparting justice at lower judicial level in Tehsils
and trial courts, has been a prime importance of Judiciary since long. Academies
have been set up in India for the said purpose where after clearing the written
examinations for recruitment at lower and higher level of District requirements,
judges are given practical as well as theoretical training. The present COVID-19
pandemic has increased expectations from the judiciary manifolds.
Virtual Courts, seems to be, is the most hot and favourite topic among the legal
fraternity today. Lot of articles have been written and webinars conducted since
the time lockdown was first imposed. The most informative is the one presided
over by Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, of the Supreme Court of India, being the
chair-person of e-committee which is responsible for modernization and
customization of all e-courts at all levels, starting from Munsiffs to the
He spoke of the efforts put in collecting data all over India by NJDG, the
National Judicial Data Grid, the role of Alternate Dispute Resolution and Online
Dispute resolution forums in curtailing disputes and also emphasized upon the
importance of District Courts as the most important and relevant platform which
needs to be automated and Judges made tech savvy enabling them to impart justice
at the lowest level of judiciary.
He further mentioned that the whole Judiciary, including lawyers and litigants
have to get out of the phenomenon called Appellaticitis
. Meaning thereby
that we have to make our District courts so powerful yet judicious that
possibility of running to Appellate Forum, gets reduced to minimal.
Off the Bench authored by Justice Krishna Iyer, spoke for the first time, the
need of Judicial Management. Just like any other Management studies and rules in
other fields, what Justice Krishna Iyer, suggested that the same management
process should be implied in the Judiciary. And his suggestions were considered
upon and today, the functioning of the lower judiciary is far improvised than
what it was 20 years ago.
But the pendency has still not reduced and the other alarming factor which has
been noted is that the trust upon the lower judiciary has declined at a much
higher rate. So where is the problem? Why it is that even after lots of efforts
and labour as put in by the government and e-committee in the enhancement of
lower judiciary, not much improvement is seen in its efficiency and rate of
infection of the disease called Appellateitis has increased manifold? Why is the
lower judiciary losing its trust among litigants and lawyers too?
According to many, it is approach and maturity of the lower level judicial
officers, which is a cause of concern. Indian lower judiciary till the year 2002
warranted lawyers with minimum 3 years experience to appear for the lower
judiciary examinations. This condition was later scrapped by the Supreme Court
in 2002. Today fresh law graduates are allowed to appear in such examination and
after selection they start presiding over the courts by the age of 25. Survey
says that the average age of lower judicial officers in India is 25-26 years.
It has been opined by many jurists that for a person to become a judge and take
over the functioning of the courts, it is necessary that he or she has attained
some level of maturity. Nowhere in the world or that matter of fact in India
too, upon attainment of degree in any other management course, makes a man
capable to take over the reins of a position which commands complete
discretion. And judiciary is one field where we are allowing a young judge to
decide upon the fate of someone who may either lose his freedom or may lose his
rights in a civil claim. Though one year mandatory training is imparted to these
judges, but is that enough. Most feel it is not.
What is required to be understood is that the power to decide somebody's fate
doesn't involve only the knowledge of law but a far stretched maturity which a
judge learns and attains over period of experience spread over years. It is a
common phenomenon that a person's maturity over a subject comes with time. And
by the time freshly appointed Magistrates and Higher judicial officers gain any
experience, they are simultaneously expected to dispose of certain number of
cases every month, majority of which end up before appellate courts.
The judges presiding over Appellate Courts can reason a situation and facts and
interpret law in a better and judicious way than the lower judicial officers.
Hence, that maturity is must. And no matter how much more you equip the lower
judiciary with this advanced and automated technology but till the time they
would not think and practice their powers like a matured person, they would end
up mismanaging the courts and keep giving faulty judgments.
Then where and what is the solution.
Let us begin with a small example. A story in fact. When I was young, my parents
presented me with a thick story book:
Short stories from Russia
or Russian Fable
s. There was one story
about a Czar who passed a sermon that the one who gets him a shinning Cup lying
at the bottom of the river will get to marry Czar's daughter. Depth of the river
was fathomless and inhabited by crocodiles.
Many divers lost lives in pursuit to marry the princess. Then there was this
poor young man, a diver, who too wanted to change his fortune. But he had a
father who was a reputed diver of his times. He shared his desire with his
father to jump in the river and get the cup. The father requested him to take
him along to the river side and if the poor lad dies in his pursuit, he decided
to commit suicide as there was no one left to take care of him.
Once on the banks of the river when the young guy was about to jump, the father,
being a diver, expressed his desire to see the cup. And then he told his son
that the cup was not in the bottom of the river but at the top of the mountain
under which the river was flowing. River just carried the reflection of the cup.
So the young man climbed up the mountain, got the cup and married the princess.
The moral of the story is that it's not the courage or intention which matters
to do a certain job but the experience too plays an important role. It was his
father's experience being a diver that helped him to get to his goal.
Young lawyers, freshly out of law college, have no experience to impart justice.
Most of them are unlucky in trying their fate in Civil Services Examinations.
Their mind set is to RULE whereas judiciary requires an element of SERVICE.
Merely a year's training and that too occasionally in quantum of hours spent
would not teach them much. Similar is the case with the higher judicial officers
who get appointed at District and Sessions level. Then are the bureaucrats who
are assigned with the judicial work.
Where is the experience, the depth and conscious to impart justice? Most of
these officers never get elevated to any senior judicial position. Throughout
their career spanned over years of service, never get them to understand the
insight of High Court and Supreme Court judges who look at law and understand it
from a completely different perspective. Making these fresh judicial recruits
sit with likes of their own won't fetch them an experience of understanding law
from a judge who is dealing with their orders in an appeal or revision. Very few
have a vision even to reach to the top. For most the power and money, forgive me
but that is a fact, makes them happy and contended.
What I want to say is that if the Hon'ble Supreme Court does feel that District
level courts should contribute in removing this disease Appellaticitis
then training of the junior officers should be done accordingly. The training
period should be increased from one year to two years. For the first six months
they should be made to sit with High Court Judges. Then, next six months with
Supreme Court Judges and then next six months with the likes of their own to
understand the court craft.
The final six months they should be subjected to lifetime experiences of various
jurists, judges, eminent lawyers and other people who have struck it big in
their respective fields other than law. Then they should be evaluated on basis
of their maturity before handing over such responsible posts to them. Imparting
justice is not easy. It is not a duty but a service towards society. They must
know how and in what manner senior judges deal with their judgments and orders.
This will help them to concentrate on their approach right from the beginning.
The vision which Justice Chandrachud has in his mind--to control the
disputes--can only be achieved by making lower judiciary strong and
compassionate to society's woes. To make them understand what the top level
management desires from them. Sometimes I wonder when our peers say that no
lawyer is complete without training of minimum of two years under a good senior
lawyer and that too after understanding the work at District level, then how
come the same analogy is not applied upon the judges who have no experience of
being a good lawyer at the first place?
No matter how advanced technology we make available to them, but till the time
they don't understand the concept behind the word JUSTICE nothing would work. If
the senior judiciary wants to make our districts courts strong they will have to
share their experience and expectations with these young judicial officers.
Merely going to judicial officers' training institute and giving lecture is not
enough. Instead these officers should be made to sit in the court rooms like any
spends hours in company of the senior judges, like any
apprentice in a Lawyer's office and made to understand what Judiciary expects
And after training of two years, if the committee feels that the officer is
still not ready, he should be given an option to resign or undergo further
training. But please don't put the fate of lakhs in dark by letting them to
loosely deal with world's most humble and noble duty/service, even if it is
during first five years of their joining services. They would create havoc and
the higher judiciary will end up cleaning the mess for all times to come. What
we have to remember is that even though one gets a license to drive, yet for
first six months we have to drive under a senior driver's supervision. Once
satisfied that we have learnt the skill then we are given a permanent license.
It is also noted that there are times when the reserved category seats get
carried forward for the next requirement opportunity. Most feel that would be
unfair to the society at large. If at such eventuality happens, why cannot those
seats be allocated to general category students to meet the requirement of time?
Before concluding I just want all to go through Chapter Judicial Power A
Management Mess from Off the Bench by Justice Krishna Iyer. May be many more
have expressed such views but the manner in which he has penned down the lapses
on part of the system, I doubt if anyone else can present the same with such
rawness coupled with eloquence. But still a small excerpt from it which would be
apt to conclude my interpretation of path shown to us by Justice Chandrachud.
The excellence of management can not emerge from lord shipping
judges but needs choice of competent judicial personnel based on relevant
criteria. What are the pertinent qualities in the selectee and who are the
selectors? How is management skill to be determined? While Judicial Independence
is inalienable value, ignorance and arbitrariness and indifference to the
fundamentals of the Constitution are indefensible in the gullible guise of
To blink at systematic management blunders is dangerous since Judicial Power is
no omnipotence in the sky but great ability to accelerate access to right and
justice withstanding pressure from lobbies, political clout, purchase by oblique
economic operators and submissions to prejudices and partialities which run
counter to the fundamentals of the Secular Socialist Democratic Republic.
Of Course Scholarship in law, general sympathy with weaker sections, concern for
distributive justice, commitment to judicial remedies for the masses, awareness
of international developments in the spectral range of human rights and past
which throws light on the class slant, must be preferred to income hunger,
dubious integrity and inclination for participation in social justice
These call for careful screening while hand picking candidates so that those who
are allergic people oriented social values to these factors and are addicted to
fancy fees, mega corporate clientele delayed justice, less scruples about truth
and justice and more focus on success
at the bar even by professional
skullduggery, tendency to cultivate politicians and Big Business may be
eliminated. Judge power Management begins with right choice for right reasons of
those who justly fill the Bill.
This selection, based on criteria, whether of a hotel or hospital or super
market, calls for training and mastering of special techniques, more so if the
job demands high dignity, equanimity, dignity and other complex considerations.
Needless to mention that same approach and care should be taken by self
appointed ADR and ODR forums while selecting Mediators/Arbitrators and Dispute
Redressal Officers. The E-Committee or any other forum or the law governing such
forums should lay specific guidelines for the same.
The views, above, are primarily expressed to lay and build a strong foundation
for effective and most advanced judicial system in India as hinted by Justice
Written By: Sanjay Manchanda
Email: [email protected]