JUDICIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT : ARTICLE

The Apex Court envisioned a cutting edge solution to the above concern, in the form of Judicial Impact Assessment.

According to Professor N.R. Madhava Menon, former Director of the National Judicial Academy at Bhopal, “Judicial Impact Assessment is a process whereby the government can anticipate the likely cost of implementing a legislation through the courts and help deliver timely justice to litigants.”Litigation demand depends on a variety of factors most of which are not factored in the making of laws. This results in the court system being left with little or no extra resources to cope with additional cases generated by new laws. This is the main reason why despite increased disposals every year, courts are still crowded with mounting arrears of cases. Realizing this structural imbalance in the system, the Supreme Court in the Salem Advocates’ Association Case (2005) gave a direction to the government to make Judicial Impact Assessment an essential component of the Financial Memorandum of legislative proposals.

The key element in Judicial Impact Assessment is the methodology for estimating judicial workload resulting from new legislations and determining the additional costs involved in Judge-time and support services. The lack of adequate data on the working of the judicial system, particularly at the level of subordinate courts, has been a serious impediment in planning and management of judicial reforms. We still do not know the exact reasons for delay or the time taken at various stages of judicial proceedings. What is the cost involved in processing different types of cases and how is it to be calculated? What is the optimum capacity of the system and how judicial time is to be apportioned or evaluated? Management of court systems, including budgeting and accountability mechanisms, is outdated. Given the fact that continuous generation of credible data on court functioning is the foundation for Judicial Impact Assessment, it is imperative that a mechanism for collection, analysis and reporting of judicial data is put in place at the earliest I also wish to make certain further suggestions in other fields, as follows –Criminal ” The institution of Special Public Prosecutors needs to be strengthened. The remuneration / fees of the Special Public Prosecutor is considerably low and it should be enhanced to attract experienced, committed and knowledgably advocates. ” There should be time limit for investigation by police and conclusion of the trial.” The attendance of I.O.’s at the hearing ought to be stricter; missing a hearing must not be an option. ” Sensitization and periodical orientation sessions for police personnel, judicial officers, Public Prosecutors must be held. ” Providing better incentives to judicial officers to attract talent will be one way of strengthening the system. ” Enhancing capacity of judicial officers and public prosecutors through training programmes and s u p p o r t i n g c r e a t i o n o r strengthening of a judicial academy in each state to facilitate such training.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Strengthening of ADR mechanism is vital. ADR will be a success here because the aim is to resolve a dispute and not to decide the dispute. ” The Delhi High Court established the Delhi International Arbitration Centre (formerly Delhi High Court Arbitration Centre) on 25th November 2009. The Patna High Court may also set up an ADR center, in terms of Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, in each judicial district, which is without an ADR center. “ The ADR mechanism should be strengthened, achieving the twin objectives of speed with cost effectiveness. ” The time and cost effectiveness maybe achieved by a Core committee / Advisory committee, comprising of trained legal professionals / advocates (who volunteer and may eventually be paid), who monitor the entire process of arbitration from inception till the end. The Core committee can be backed by an efficient Secretariat to achieve the objective of time effectiveness. ” A set of Rules ought to be framed for the ADR centers, balancing and respecting the fundamental principle of party autonomy.

” An in-house mechanism should be established in the government for amicable settlement of such case where government was a party. Lok Adalat and Legal Aid System and Other/ Special Courts ” Enhancing support to Lok Adalats will reduce the pressure on regular courts. ” Legal Aid system should be made accessible and affordable to the poor and weaker sections.” There should be a fuller and more fruitful implementation of the provisions of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, which has been enacted to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes. ” Local human rights organizations / NGOs, elected representatives, and law students, should also be actively involved by National Legal Service Authorities (NALSA), constituted under the 1987 Act, at grass-roots level for enhancing legal awareness of vulnerable groups States may set up morning / evening / shift / weekend / mobile / special magistrate courts, to try petty cases so as to clear the backlog of cases and to relieve pressure on judicial time – these Courts may either utilize the services of regular judicial officers on payment of additional compensation or retired officers. Other ” Increasing the strength of judges in various courts and augmenting the infrastructure, will also aid the resolution of the ever increasing caseload. ” If judgments at the level of trial courts are of a high quality, the number of revisions and appeals may also get reduced. The training needs to include Court and Case Management besides methods to improve their skills in hearing cases, taking decisions and writing judgments, removing the potential inconsistencies and conflicts in ?judicial decisions, getting acquainted with the changes in laws, finding grey areas where the existing laws need modification and/or to interpret the laws in accordance with new international treaties and covenants, etc. ” Creation of the post of Court Managers in every judicial district to assist the judiciary in their administrative functions.

” Before assuming office as the Chief Justice of India, Mr. Justice Lahoti (Retd.) had observed that information technology had a major role to play in the justice delivery system, particularly in the area of issuing order copies by way of digital signature. “Access to Justice,” should be the joint concern of judiciary and the state government. It is said that, not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done. Former attorney general Soli J. Sorabji had said, “Law is a service-oriented profession and not a commercial undertaking. There must be a realization for every lawyer that in essence we all are rendering a service to society.” Lawyers must view themselves as public servants no matter what their chosen field of practice; no matter what side they take on a case. The law that you invoke is not yours; it is of the people. Self-realization, self-criticism and self-judgment are the three angles of any reforms. With my suggestions above, a road map has been laid-out. All that is required now is to follow it up with zeal and enthusiasm to achieve the desired goal.

“Impartiality, independence, fairness and reasonableness in judicial decision making are the hallmarks of the judiciary. If impartiality is the soul of judiciary, l independence is the lifeblood of the judiciary. Without independence, impartiality cannot thrive -Justice Swatantra Kumar in Namit Sharam V. Union Of India ,(2013)I SCC 745,para 103

BY : Vedansh Anand, FIMT College of Law
[The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Indian Legal Solution and Indian Legal Solution does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same].

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