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Judicial Reforms: A Major Bottleneck In India’s Development

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When India is sharing the turbulence in the global economy, at many platforms, its resilience is being praised. But there is umpteen criticism and genuine concern expressed in different ways as well. The government may be hopeful for the increased demand in this festive season and get a reasonable enough number which can keep the opposition’s and the critics’ mouth shut. But meanwhile, we also need to pay attention to the global voices taking back the validity of GDP as the only framework to map the development of a nation.

In the Indian context, when more than 75% of its economy is dealing in an unorganized way, an elite framework like GDP remains with limited scope. And the resilience for which India is attracting appreciation is undoubtedly due to the contribution of the system which doesn’t fit into the GDP calculation somewhere. In India, some intellectuals are underlining the in-appropriation of protests against the government despite a “deep surge” in the economy.

The country is having several huge affairs going all along, and hence, there is a dispersion in the attention of media, narrative building channels, and the local debates. On one side, the country is getting Rafale, NRC is going on, Kashmir issue with the narrative of nuclear war, sedition charge on several people, Aarey Colony issue, elections, Bangladesh PM’s visit, the hangover of UNGA, Swiss Bank sharing the first-ever list of money in the account of Indians. Amidst all this, my mind has dared to think of the activism of the Supreme Court in Aarey forest case. The application of a law student based in Noida has been considered as PIL and SC brought the Suo-Moto writ to stay the cutting of trees immediately.

It’s not new for India to witness the Supreme Court looking into the trivial issues for which the High Court may be more than enough. The issue of concern here is that there are lakhs of constitutional cases pending in the Supreme Court while it is busy dealing with the ordinary cases. It’s good to promote immediate justice, but only the Supreme Court will never be able to do it if it follows the way it is acting now. There are two-three dynamics that need special attention in this situation:

The Judicialization Of Crucial And Sensitive Cases

In Bihar, there is a total liquor ban. Under Article 47 of the constitution of India, the state is empowered to bring about “prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.” Based on this right, Bihar imposed a complete liquor ban. But when the Act was challenged in Patna High Court on the basis that “Liquor is not necessarily intoxicating and injurious to health if taken moderately, and hence, its prohibition is a clear violation of Article 21 which guarantees personal liberty to all citizens.”,  the Patna High Court found the challenge valid and struck down the ban ordering the government to take the prohibition back.

The government of Bihar challenged the judgement of Patna HC in the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has kept this case pending, allowing the government to continue the imposition of total liquor ban. Now, this approach of the Supreme Court appears to be a bit indigestible if seen with the lens of upholding the constitution. This is a clear case of judicialization of sensitive issues. The same is happening with the cases like Triple Talaq, nullification of Article 370 and UID (Aadhaar). These serious issues are kept in pending, and that is serious when the honourable Supreme Court is doing it.

No Attention Towards NJAC

The zeal with which the constitution was amended with a special majority to bring NJAC (National Judicial Appointments Commission) to fix the issue of scarcity of judges in High courts and the Supreme Court, is appearing to be lost somewhere. Crores of cases are pending, but we are not yet ready to bring appropriate workforce in the judicial system. We are doing so much for ease of doing business, so much for Swacch Bharat, so much for aspirational districts, we are designing a new framework known as “Ease of living”, but why can’t we regularize the service entrance of judges through an Indian Judicial Services (IJS) like IAS and IPS? Is the quest for spotlight in hon’ble judges bringing stagnation to this advancement? Is there a lack of political will which has taken actions like demonetization and Abrogation of Special Status of J&K? Or is it a power play by the affluent class?

The Approach Of Executives In This Paradigm

It is an evident trend that with the abnormal and flawed investigative judicial institutions, the executives are terrified to take unconventional decisions. They are shooting from the shoulder of the courts to immune themselves from institutions like CBI, NIA or ED. This is making the country slow, inefficient and less productive.

The act of crime generally happens as retaliation to injustice. The basic element of the formation of statecraft is to administer justice and maintain law and order for holistic development. This kind of situation needs functional, systematic and effective institutional dynamism in the country, which needs Supreme Court to facilitate the nation with its rapid interpretation of the laws and decisive guidance for the functionality of law-making and law-implementing institutions.

A citizen may digest to die out of hunger, but will never wish to die with injustice. And the way it is happening, it simply raises the question on the very existence of the state and this whole system. India must focus of reducing the gross judicialization product (GJP) and speed up the processes of judicial reforms so that it may focus on the necessary buy-in of the people in the system which will definitely turn the scenario—which is appearing to be low in terms of GDP and high in terms of GJP—around.

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