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Open Letter To The Future PM Of India: How To Ensure Justice In 3 Years Instead Of 15

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By Mayank Jain:

Respected Prime Minister,

Congratulations on your attempts to change India for better and now that you have assumed office, it will be helpful to take a look at the critical issues and revamp some processes to make sure there is nothing stopping us from achieving our rather ambitious goals of becoming the next superpower.

A superpower or any respectable country needs justice as its foundation pillar to counter crimes and dissent that rises with the rise in the potential of the country but in India, we are far from being a justice guaranteeing society. Undoubtedly, our laws are robust and more often than not, they cover good extent of cases. Also, our courts are rightly celebrated for their defense of principles of liberty and democracy but the time taken by our judicial system, is something that none of us can be proud of.

Youth Ki Awaaz, based on data and analyses supplied by “AskHow”, would like to ask a few questions to the leaders and politicians regarding the lack of fast track justice in the country and discuss the importance of a well-functioning judiciary for the country.

 

How slow is our judiciary?
The short answer is we don’t know, as the data on time taken by the judicial system is not easily available. However, in a sample study of cases in one anti-corruption branch of CBI for a period of 5 years, their appeals, convictions and imprisonment were tracked and the results were shocking. The conviction rate of 144 convictions out of 275 people who were charge sheeted is good. Unfortunately, only 8 of them had to undergo significant jail time after conviction and the rest were released on probation or their appeals were in the courts.

A bigger problem is the time it took. Average time taken for investigation was 13 months, for trial years and for appeal 13 years and the total time taken to bring an offender to punishment exceeded 20 years. Hence, a 35 year old individual might get retired from service by the time he is convicted.

Why do we need swift judiciary?
There is no denying in the fact that we need our judiciary to be much, much faster than it is as of now and its strength and efficiency directly affects the quality of life of the citizens and the development indicators of this country.

When justice isn’t delivered fast enough, many innocents rot in jail for doing nothing and offenders roam free on the roads because of the time of appeal and re appeals. Moreover, self-vigilantism and local goons sprout up as the answer to slow judiciary and people start breaking more laws to get their ‘justice’. The other effects of a slow justice system include rendering of the legal system as ineffective and there is no serious threat to criminals from the system. Also, businesses get hampered as the contracts aren’t honoured.

How can we speed up the judicial process?
The major hurdle in getting speedy justice is the number of adjournments a case goes through and adjournments often become the preferred weapon of some lawyers. The need to limit adjournments can’t be over emphasized and this can be achieved through the following means:

1. Judiciary’s commitment on the case end dates and using first in-first out method to dispose cases.
2. Setting time table for pre-determined events and making sure the case follows time table.
3. Limiting the number of adjournments per case.
4. Automation of standard processes.
5. Penal interest and punitive damages for frivolous delays and counselling the judges who frequently use adjournments.

One of the more important areas that need attention is clearing up the backlog. The 80:20 rule applies in the judiciary as well and most of the pending cases are related to few laws such as those relating to marital disputes, cheque bouncing, etc. and attempts should be made to turn courts into specific hearing houses tackling a narrow spectrum of cases and doing it fast enough with efficient staffing and automated processes.

The next step should be to free up judges’ mind off routine and mundane tasks like deciding the dates of hearing, affidavit filing etc. The processes can be automated instead and the tasks of paperwork should be done by Court Managers rather than by the judges themselves, freeing up their time for hearings.

Government also spends a lot of money, time and resources on numerous litigations on anything and everything and it is important for the government as well to exercise self-control and become reluctant litigator rather than a compulsive one.

We do suffer from a lack of talent in the judiciary as seen by the 31% vacancy of judge posts in the High Courts and faster hiring and selection of these judges can help to a substantial extent in speeding up the process.

In this age of technology, we need to move away from unnecessary red tape and start finding innovative solutions to the judicial needs like a central portal for tracking cases or an efficient system to manage dates of the hearings with full utilization of resources.

A report by the Supreme Court on their website emphasizes this need for innovation and efficiency in the following words: “If E-tickets of Railways can be booked in one part of the country and print generated in any other part of the country, generating information of statistics relating to Judiciary may not be difficult.”

Honourable Prime Minister, I hope you act fast on the above issues and take consideration of the ground realities of our judiciary because legal system is what largely differentiates a Mexico from a Canada. We need to decide what India would rather be.

Yours Warmly
A Common Man

 AskHow India is a group of Indian citizens that aims to raise the quality of debate before the 2014 elections. They believe that a simple way of improving public discussion is to ask the question ‘How’. They think that the citizens should ask political parties how their challenges would be tackled rather than request them to grant their wishes. For example, they think that “How can the next Prime Minister of India lower food prices?” is a superior question to “Can the next Prime Minister of India reduce food prices? Like AskHow India on Facebook here.

 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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