The hanging of four Nirbhaya convicts on March 20 was widely celebrated across the country as they finally got what they deserved after years of legal battle that Jyoti Singhâs parents were brave enough to put up with. However, even with the capital punishment finally coming to pass, many people still believe that the true justice wasnât served.
Given the seven-year delay in carrying out the death penalties, the mental harassment Jyotiâs family was put through over the years and with a main convict getting off scot-free because he was tried as a juvenile even when he didnât deserve it, dissatisfaction with the functioning of our legal system ran high amongst the masses.
Unfortunately, such is the level of disappointment that people have come to question the Indian legal system. Owing to its many loopholes and liberal extensions, it failed to live up to the expectations of the Indian society which saw convicts manipulating the law to serve themselves and evade punishment for years.
Keeping in mind these grave injustices and the shared frustrations amongst people, we reached out to Mumbai-based lawyer Arka Navle to get a few answers and understand why things went the way that they did.Problem 1: The âPerfectly Flawedâ Indian Legal System
Â© Twitter DDNews
Advocate Navle said, âIndiaâs litigation system rocks on paper, but it is nowhere close to being practical in reality. In this country, be it a rape case or any other, everyone involved must get a chance to fair trial. Both sides have to be heard. Thatâs the law. Even when things are out in the open, the crime and the criminal are known, the Indian legal system will still give a chance to both the parties to present their case before the court.â
So basically, in our country even an accused cannot be denied his right to life and personal liberty, because Article 21 of the Indian Constitution makes fair trial a part of life and personal liberty for all Indian citizens.Problem 2: India Loves Its âProcessesâ
Whether to serve the powerful and give them a chance to evade the justice system, or help lawyers earn their bread and butter, the Indian legal system has set procedures in place which cannot be jumped âfor anyoneâ, or so it says on paper.
âThere are due legal processes which have to be followed before a judgement can be passed by the court of law. Though you may fast-track certain special cases as and when those appear but thatâs it, others will have to follow the procedures given in the books of law,â the advocate said.Problem 3: The Nirbhaya Case Was No Special
Talking about the delay in carrying out the indictment of the Nirbhaya accused, advocate Navle said, âThe Nirbhaya case took seven years because they were following these very procedures. The case went from the Trial Court to the High Court and then to the Supreme Court - you have to follow the steps. Apart from that, even the accused had their own set of rights, and as we know all four of them did utilise them. Once those were exhausted, the final hanging verdict was given. Now the system is such that it allows people to exploit such loopholes and provisions given to accused, which we witnessed even in this case.â
Advocate Navle also believes that lethargy in the public and within the system also adds to the extensive time taken in clearing cases. âThe legal systemâs approach as well as the mindset of people makes them hate the following-up process, which ends in cases getting extended for years.â She gave the example of the entire litigation of Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace, the judgement for which was passed in the 90s but went on to become an Act years later only in 2013.
Advocate Navle said that lack of judges in courts is perhaps the biggest factor thatâs adding to the constant delays. âThere are too many cases in court and not enough judges to hear and clear them. At times, hearing takes months because there is a heavy board. Now the trial processes are such that one litigation turns into five more litigations along the way, and eventually there are too many hearings to deal with, and with a shortage of judges the entire process ends up taking years at times,â Navle said.
In an official document presented by The Union Law Ministry in March 2018, the Ministry stated that on an average, India has only 19 judges per 10 lakh people, with scores of judgeâs seats in courts lying vacant.Problem 6: People Within The System Exploit It
Â© Panorama Studios
Advocate Navle also stated, âThe system is not completely flawed but people within the system are trying to exploit it to serve their own purpose. They knew the system, how it works and exploit it.â
However, she also added that the system cannot change on its own, but will only happen when people who are a part of it decide to change things. âNow while many of us know about the shortcomings of our legal system and want to change it, the majority of the lawyers donât want that to happen because a lengthy process ensures that money keeps trickling in for them over a longer period of time,â she added.
Â© Benaras Media Works
Besides, she said that the way the lawyers are treated in our country also adds to this woe. âIf lawyers had the benefit of getting some sort of monthly financial security, or some subsidies or relaxations to take care of their basic needs things may not have been that bad. They wouldnât want to keep things hanging if they know their sustenance wonât be under threat with a few closed cases.â
âJudiciary should be independent and is supposed to give checks and balances to the bureaucracy and the legislature but in practise it is highly influenced. If politics is taken out of the loop, things will surely get faster and quicker. Judges should be independent and unbiased, and work away from external influence.â
This interaction was certainly insightful, but if you feel thereâs more to it let us know in the comments section below.