As State celebrates Int’l Justice Day, it is time to reflect on justice delivery
On 18th July as we observe International Justice Day, it is time to reflect on the fact that in a small State like Goa there is a very huge pendency of cases. As on 31st May this year a whopping 60418 cases were pending across various Courts in our State. Of these 2164 cases have been going on for over ten long years while 7414 cases dragging on for over five years. 1618 cases pending were involving senior citizens. New cases have been adding to this pile-up daily.
Very sadly for many justice eludes and evades in their life span. This sorry state of affairs is untenable as justice delayed is justice denied which is absolutely impermissible. The fountain of Justice must keep flowing while it dispenses the rule of law to the last man in the queue in a timely and truthful way. Some years ago there was loud talk of commencing night courts while the pendency could be dealt with if the day courts itself functioned effectively.
The wheels of justice were moving slowly even prior to the pandemic and the state of affairs has now just worsened. The judiciary is the common man’s last hope for justice. It cannot fail to deliver in these critical days while the pandemic rages. Dispensation of justice is an absolutely essential service which has to be provided uninterrupted.
In the current grim scenario, our High Court is trying to do its best to hear and dispose of matters by sitting four days a week compared to their counterparts in Mumbai who sit twice a week. But there have to be concerted efforts by the subordinate judiciary in our State to function as effectively and diligently as possible.
The decision by the courts to currently only hear urgent matters is a matter of concern. Every court after taking all the required precautions in the current circumstances could hear a fixed number of cases daily. As every litigant knows the urgency of his case, there is no excuse why courts cannot function to their optimum possible capacity while observing all the required health and safety protocols.
Justice Rajendra Menon, while retiring as the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in 2019, had said that until and unless we are able to deliver timely justice to the citizens, the faith in the system may erode and if such a thing happens, it would be a disaster for the democratic system of this country, while expressing concern over the huge dependency of cases and long delays in their disposal.
(The writer is a lawyer and social activist)