IDFC Institute Conversation hosted a private discussion with Justice Gautam S. Patel, sitting judge of the High Court of Bombay, and Dr. Harish Narasappa, founding partner of the law firm Samvad Partners and co-founder of DAKSH, for a discussion on "Understanding the State of the Indian Judiciary." The discussion explored issues that affect the efficiency of the judicial system, such as delays, and the problem of unequal access for marginalised sections. It highlighted the need for judicial reform to address these issues.
Watch Dr. Narasappa's video interview with IDFC Institute's Associate Avanti Durani, below:
The judiciary continues to remain the most respected of state institutions, primarily due to its activist approach to many social and environmental matters that has brought a semblance of order and logic to the State’s action on those issues. On the other hand, the severe delays in deciding cases has not only led to frustration among citizens, but to a real fear that the judiciary has become dysfunctional.
Delay is the biggest and most visible problem facing the judiciary. There is a large body of discourse on judicial delays in the country. While the discussion has helped in increasing awareness of the problem, it has lacked the substantive depth and persistence necessary to transform itself into a momentum for change. Importantly, it has largely been dependent on anecdotal evidence, due to the absence of data.
Further, there is near unanimity on the fact that marginalised sections in the country have difficulty in accessing the justice system for a variety of reasons, such as lack of proper articulation of their rights, massive costs, technical challenges, and legal illiteracy.
There is a need for the discourse on judicial reform to focus on systemic efficiency issues without compromising on justice.