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RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- HURDLES IN SPEEDY JUSTICE (CONTEXT- RAPE & SEXUAL ASSAULT)

RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- HURDLES IN SPEEDY JUSTICE (CONTEXT- RAPE & SEXUAL ASSAULT)

RSTV

Introduction:

Less than a fortnight after the gang rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad , the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has approved a bill which proposes death penalty in cases of sexual abuse of women. It also seeks completion of the entire trial along with judgement within 21 days of filing of FIR. At present there is no provision for death penalty in Indian Laws for rape convicts However Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018 and amendments to the POCSO Act provides for death penalty as a possible punishment for aggravated sexual assault on children below the age of 18 years. The real issue here is time taken in the final disposal of cases of rape and sexual assault.

 

Justice delayed is justice denied is the corner stone in delivering justice, speedy trial is the essence of the criminal justice. If legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. Rape is a heinous crime which gives pain and suffering to the victim both physically and mentally. It is a violative of Article 21 of the constitution, Article 21 of the constitution guarantees “ Right to life and Personal liberty” to all which includes right to live with human dignity. Rape destroys the soul of the victim, women are already victims of rape and they are again victimized during long trial process in the court.

Rape trial run in a mockery and even after prolonged trial of rape there is an acquittal of an accused for some reasons or the other. The long rape trial and humiliating questions asked by the defense counsel destroys her completely both in the court and in the society as the stigma attached ruins her whole life. Why every time a girl has to prove that she has been raped and why the onus is not shifting on the accused.

 

Glitches in Indian Judicial System:

  • There is general acceptance that the Indian judicial system suffers from case delay and the use of antiquated methods, the discourse on judicial reform remains focussed on areas such as appointments and vacancies. There is a need to identify other areas such as organisational barriers, infrastructure and court processes that also contribute to case delay are studied.
  • Nearly 2.8 crore cases are pending in the district and subordinate courts across the country and there are only 16,874 judges to try them — that’s around 1,540 cases per judge.
  • Another issue is Gender gap in Judiciary, Only 28% of lower judiciary judges in the country are women, a first-of-its-kind study by Delhi-based Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has revealed.
  • The lack of gender diversity is not limited to the lower judiciary. The Supreme Court has only seen six women judges in its six decades of existence, and currently has one woman judge out of 25 judges.
  • In the 24 High Courts across the country, just over 10% judges are women.
  • The Criminal law in India is contained in a number of sources – The Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  • CJS can impose penalties on those who violate the established laws.
  • The criminal law and criminal procedure are in the concurrent list of the seventh schedule of the constitution.

 

What are the hurdles in delivering speedy justice?

  • Justice delivery system in India is bursting at the seams and may collapse unless immediate remedial measures are adopted not only by the judiciary but also by the legislature and the executive.
  • The biggest hurdle is
  • Criminal justice system is suffering from inertia.
  • We have proper law in place but the main loophole lies in its timely implementation and delivery of justice
  • The delay in the judicial system results in loss of public confidence on the concept of justice.
  • No single meaningful change has been initiated since independence.
  • The currently available infrastructure of courts in India is not adequate to settle the growing litigation within reasonable time.
  • There is complete mismatch between the number of crimes which the courts systrm is asked to handle and the human resource which they have in terms of number of judges, para legal staff and infrastructure.
  • Unless the human resource requirement is fulfilled, speedy justice will be an issue even if we put 21 days deadline.
  • Despite the continual efforts, a common man may sometimes find himself entrapped in litigation for as long as a life time, and some times litigation carries on even on to the next generation.
  • Looking at present scenario Andhra Pradesh cabinet has enacted a law without taking into consideration the ground situation.
  • In the process, he may dry up his resources, apart from suffering harassment. Thus, there is a chain reaction of litigation process and civil cases may even give rise to criminal cases.
  • Delays are at multiple level ie delay at investigation level, delay at trial, delay at the time of disposal of appeal.
  • In POSCO and CRPC we already have time limits but not adhered too.
  • Delay in the disposal of cases has resulted in huge backlog of pending cases in various courts of the country. In some cases delay may result in denial of justice.
  • The Arrears Committee headed by Justice V. S. Mallimath identified various causes of accumulation of arrears of cases in the High Courts. Some of the principal causes are:
    • Litigation explosion;
    • Accumulation of first appeal;
    • Inadequacy of staff attached to the High Court;
    • Inordinate concentration of work in the hands of some members of the Bar;
    • Lack of punctuality among judges;
    • Granting of unnecessary adjournments;
    • Indiscriminate closure of Courts;

 

Way forward:

  • We should create special criminal bench in high court as that of commercial bench which is in place.
  • Intention is much needed on the part of executive, legislature and judiciary.
  • The right thing to do in rape cases is to appoint senior judges in fast track courts.
  • Create specialist benches in the courts where judges are given training in criminal system.
  • No adjournments should be permitted, and rape courts should be put under the direct control of High Courts.
  • The state needs to avoid unprincipled criminalisation and rather focus on developing a guiding principle for re-classification of offences.
  • Separating the investigation wing of the police.
  • This is because unprincipled criminalisation often leads to not only the creation of new offences on unscientific grounds, but also arbitrariness in the criminal justice system.
  • The Supreme Court has repeatedly admonished trigger-happy police personnel who liquidate criminals and project the incident as an encounter.

 

Rape which destroys the woman completely and she has left nothing except knocking the doors of the courts for the justice has to wait for prolonged trail and even after that justice is not given to her. The right to speedy justice is not a fact or fiction but a Constitutional reality and it has to be given its due respect. If the administration of justice delivery system is to yield good results then the courts have to act with greater promptitude. A guilty person deserves to be punished promptly and an innocent should be released immediately because his protractions in the legal system can be most traumatic. The time has come when the legal and judicial system has to be revamped and restructured so that injustice does not occur and disfigure fair and otherwise luminous face of our nascent democracy.