Justice delay is justice denied, goes the old saying. But, what justification can be given to those who see the courts as an ultimate destination for seeking redressal of their grievances.
In our state the infrastructure, both in terms of manpower and otherwise vis-a-vis courts has been much debated. The courts at the district level upto the state level are running short of all kinds of facilities which if ignored can lead to a disastrous situation.
What we are witnessing is that the courts in the state are hard pressed for disposing off the nearly 2.90 lakh cases — civil and criminal — as these cases are pending in various courts, including in the High Court from the past many years now.
The high pendency of cases in courts has validated the Supreme Court’s observation that the delay in decision on cases before the courts of law had led to diminishing faith among the public in the Indian judicial system.
Notably, more than 1,00,000 cases comprising around 98,651 civil and 7,659 criminal are pending in the High Court alone. Last year a total of 21,665 cases have been disposed off. However, the overall picture is more grim as nearly 2.90 lakh cases — civil and criminal — are pending in various courts, including in the High Court.
These figures should alarm anyone after all we are living in a civilised world and hence we cannot afford such laxity in our judicial system. The fact is that a serious view has to be taken by the civil society on the importance of vibrant judiciary in a democratic state.
Judiciary is one of the three organs of the State yet somehow its presence has not been correctly projected. If not a healthy impression has been created about the courts and judicial system in the State, we have to look to the conditions in which our courts function.
The audit body, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) too has pointed out to the messy situation the judicial system is caught up in our state.
CAG in its latest report has brought many such facets to the fore that need a serious rethink. The report that has been submitted portrays a grim picture of the infrastructure that we have in the State. Judicial infrastructure does not mean only the court rooms where the judges sit and hear the cases. It is a complex with many wings and branches and all put together makes the court infrastructure.
The CAG has painted a dismal picture of the court structures which it visited for preparing the report. It said that physical condition of 64% court buildings is either poor or very poor in Jammu and Kashmir and 20% courts are functioning either from private buildings or buildings of other departments.
Moreover, an expenditure of Rs 157.37 crore was incurred without obtaining building permissions from the concerned authorities.
The report points out that the infrastructure the judicial system has been provided is primitive and obsolete if not degrading. It is unimaginable that a court functions from rented house.
It is surprising that the courts in the state do not have adequate libraries where besides law books other literature is also preserved. What does a court complex mean without a reading room for the functionaries and the lawyers? The court complex should have auditoriums for symposia and lectures by eminent lawyers for the judicial fraternity and interested people in the town.
We can only hope that the government will try to rise to the occasion and come up with some plan to address all the issues of the judiciary. Both in terms of manpower and other infrastructure.