“Tareekh pe tareekh”: Is what is our impression about courts.

Why the cases get delayed? Why so many adjournments? Why many cases drag for years?

Why? In one line, our system is designed in that way. Let me explain.

The lawyers argue cases and judges decide cases.

Neither the lawyers nor the judges are incentivized to resolve cases fast. How?

Take lawyers first.

A lawyer has the incentive of getting more money from his/her client if (s)he delays the case. And if his/her client is on the potential losing side, then the incentive is still higher.

For the judge, promotion in judiciary is very less. Not many judges get promoted. Many judges in High courts are picked from among the lawyers. There are rumours of an “Uncle system” where the members of a handful of “judicial families” move up in the ladder whether as lawyers or judges.

How to fix the rot? The Lawyers first.

The Advocates Act under which Bar Council of India is created should be amended to introduce a mandatory ranking system for lawyers on say a quarterly basis. Lets say, in a district court, the state Bar Council publishes the ranks of lawyers based on the number of cases (s)he has resolved in the quarter, complexity of the cases (s)he takes up, rating from his/her clients in the court’s website. There can be a state level ranking and central level raking also.

How this will help resolve the cases?

  1. This will bring in competition among lawyers. A higher ranking means more fees. Clients will also get to know about the overall performance of their lawyer before choosing him/her.
  2. Since case resolution speed will become a criteria, the layers will think twice before taking up weak cases. This will stop spurious cases from entering the system.

A rating system for Judges should also be put in place and all promotions be tied to this. This will help good Judges move up the ladder.

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