WHAT I DID WHEN I BECAME A CHIEF JUSTICE………..
Filed Under: Opinion, World | Posted: 03/08/2012 at 9:45PM
Comments | Region: India
At that moment I realized that it is not merely discharging the duties for the salary I was receiving from public exchequere and making some idealistic statements on establishing a non-corrupt judiciary and providing qualitative justice to the public, on the public dias, whenever I was invited for the public/judicial functions, but to do some thing more substantially, such as reparing/reforming the system ‘within’ first, which is going unrecognized by any one out side the world. I felt pity, even if recognized by some quarters, why they are keeping mum. I also got surprised why such people are not coming forward to point out the diseases that are plaguing the system within. Perhaps they might be keeping silent, fearing the contempt, even though it is no way related to contempt aspect or due to some other reasons, which is of no use to delving upon.
Then I began with reviewing the activities/functioning of the system ‘within’, which has not been much concentrated upon for the reason of complete engagement in routine disposal and speedy disposal of cases. First I began to think on occassionally heard talk on, ‘judgements/stay orders based on face value of advocate’. I started thinking on that, if a long-standing advocate in the profession appears in a court room before a judge, why very frequently stay orders or judgements goes in his favour devoid of merits. And in the matters of similar nature if a new or un-acquinted advocate appears before the same Judge quite a different orders are being passed. Why this discrepancy? Who established this sytem? Why this system should be continuted? Is this system developed to pay respect towards the professional seniority of some advocates? Or really would there be always a point to pass an order/judgement in a long-standing Advocate’s favour? Does it mean, only an Advocate having long-standing experience in profession do possess a key point in his pleadings, but not other Advocates? Allowing and upholding such practice, does it in any way contribute for real justice to the parties and does it not subject the otherside small advocate’s party to injustice, because of his small stature among the big advocates? On pondering over this issue, it appeared something skeptical, despite the entry of young Advocates with more shrewdness and intelligence joining in the profession they are not getting similar orders, when an advocate of long-stading appeared in the similar matter. So I thought of passing inclement instructions, to dispose off the matters only on the merits, but not on the “face value” or “facial acquiantence” of the Advocates which has been in practice to undermine the real justice.
Then “Not before me” tradition established in the legal practices at Higher Court, informally by the Judicial Officers or by all together attracted me to look into it. ‘Not before Me’ means the Judge may ask the Reigistry not to post a particular Advocate case on his bench, for different adverse reasons, that becomes a disadvantage for the another advocate and he has to wait for posting of the case in the cause list till the change of benches is done periodically for every three months or so. That means Justice would be delayed invariably because one of the advocates of the dispute is “not before me” before a particular Judge who will not take up the matter of that particular Advocate. If a particular Advocate is behaving in a peculiar manner intentionally before a Judge to join in the “not before me” list to avoid unfavourable orders to him and to delay the time by transferring the matter from one advocate to another, as a matter of tactic, that must be checked by removing this unofficial practice of “not before me” practice by passing strong instructions. I thought if this perculiar situation is not corrected to support the legal adage “justice delayed is justice denied” then unethical practices would continue to thrive unchecked.
Yet another usually done manipulation is postponement of posting the cases till a Judge favourable to him comes to bench, causing inconvience to the otherside advocate, by managing the personnel in the Administrative sections. Blocking a matter continuously not being listed in the cause list for months or years together in connivance with each other subjecting the parties to injustice is commonly heard complaint from the clients. Unless there is co-operation from the administrative staff of the court sections, that can not be done by the Advocates themselves. So, I thought it is not somewhere something is going wrong but the wrongs are going on ‘within’, but going unrecognized and everyone is getting accoustomed or habituated to follow such unjustifiable or unfair practices and also fearing, if such practices are questioned they would be trampled. I thought some end must be put to this kind of unjustifiable traditions established and followed all informally.
Next I started peeping into the casual murmurings that I heard from some quarters on corruption and malpractices in Judicial Administration. Beginning from gross mistakes being displayed in the Court website to intentionally printing mistakes in the court orders, wrongly printing Advocates names in the court orders such as, if a case is done by one small advocate and if the case is won by him printing another advocate name in the order/judgement, if case is lost by a big advocate printing a small advocate’s name in the order copy as if he lost the case, so as to unethically protect a big advocate’s false image and to defame the small advocate. Public and voiceless advocates eventhough they understood this malpractices keeping silent as if these are technical errors or typographical errors, need no serious attention. If court ‘vakalat’ (the client’s authorization to appear to defent the case) is filed by a small advocate for one party, removing the vakalath from the court files when big advocate is appearing for the other side, addressing order copies to some other advocates, as if mistakenly done. Not feeding the small and medium advocates’ names in the Court Websites records properly or to remove their names intentionally, are the common deep rooted problems found when deeply looked into such issues. In the Order copy one Advocate name appears and CC will be sent to another advocate. Not posting the matters on the day ordered by the judges in connivance with some advocates and administrative staff, showing wrong listing dates in the case statues information and saying that it was not updated, not placing order copies properly in the websites, removing order copies from the court web sites, maintaining two kinds of informations i.e. one kind of information in court’s public website and another kind of information in the court administration computer systems, so as to hide the transperancy of information. Some Court Officers/Administrative staff without the knowledge of judges posting wrong dates to the matters, and doing favours to the long standing Advoates in the profession, by posting their matter on the top priority in the Cause Lists always, and posting the small advocates’ cases at the bottom of the Daily lists, are some other common problems or unethical practices found when deeply looked into the issues. Some times cases do not appear in the cause lists but they will come to hearing on the benches as if notice is given by one side advocate to the otherside advocate but later the other side advocate raises hue and cry as if he never given the notice to or never received the notice from for hearing the matter in the lunch-motion hours. If all these problems, such as gross mistakes in court website, gross printing errors, even after recognized why action is not being initiated, is the big question I could find no answer for myself.
When I started thinking of reviewing of Trial court practices and administrative functioning over there, I found even more baffling scenario here and there. I found wide range of problems from missing the files from some court sections to, corruption at different steps, right from allotment of of S.R.numbers to till allotment of O.P/CC/M.P./Crl.M.P numbers to the Petitions/Complaints. I found that it is not incorrect information that practice of bribing the court section staff by clients and advocates prevails in many courts. I also found that while one advocate is doing cross-administration, some typists sitting besides the Trial Judges type some thing else or skips crucial words in the evidences deposed by the witnesses before the bench it self. Later on, when certified copies are obtained by clients or his advocates, the clients raise hue and cry as if what he stated is different from what is typed by the typist during cross-examination. To get it rectified is a very big task and it depends entirely on the discretion of the Trial Judge for re-examination. He may or may not allow what is once typed by the typist. If Memos are or Miscellaneous Petitions are filed in the Court sections, not allotting them SR numbers immediately at the time of filing the papers and asking the advocates or their clients to come after one or two days and later when asked for the number some staff says they did not find the concerned papers and again ask them to file fresh ones. But if some bribe is given at the time of filing papers itself, the numbers will be allotted immediately. Removal of papers from the files, allotment of long dates to certain clients and advocates by bench Clarks on the day when the judge is on leave are common unethical practices found ‘within’ the system.
Then I understood some Judges’ passions and moods are also some times coming in the way of delivering the real justice and subjecting the innocent to injustice. Judgements/Orders are coming in different contradictory ways when certain Advocates appears and in the different way when some other advocates appears in the disputes or offences of similar nature. Pressures exerted by some Bar Associations and some influential people on Trial Judges for obtaining favourable orders in the cases of their interests are also observed.
So, I thought unless the system is repaired from “within” first, whatever words uttered outside the courts is of no use and they remain idealistice forever but not realistice. That means the diseases that plauging the system must be cured from ‘within’ instead of applying the external solutions to the body. So, I have determined strongly to seek my collegues’ serious cooperation in this regard to repair the entire system……..
………but after the few moments when I fell down from the bed in Clipperton Island, I realized that it was all I was wandering in cloud cuckoo land thinking of big things, and I realized that I never became a Judge first to think of such things or to do such things.
…………..IN MY DREAMS. By dchaitanya