Monday, Sep 26, 2022
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70 Years Of Indian Judiciary | Opinion: Our Courts Need To Be More Welcoming, Accessible, Purpose Driven

All kinds of people access courts, including persons with special needs. Any institution that seeks to be accessible to a diverse audience must be prepared to accommodate and make comfortable everyone, write Sumathi Chandrashekaran and Reshma Sekhar

From the Raj’s court Photograph by Getty Images

Indians largely tend to shy away from the very idea of litigation. The tales told by those who see it up close will not encourage the rest: inordinate delays, multiple appearances, and the whole bureaucratic tangle starting from the filing of a petition until the final judgment. Enough to leave a lay person intimidated. But while navigating the judicial process is a harrowing experience in itself, there are more material reasons that would dissuade potential litigants from approaching the courts: the state of court infrastructure.

Anyone who has visited a public institution can testify how infrastructure plays a key role in ensuring the quality of service delivery. Courts are no exception. We collected data in a nationwide survey of 665 district courts, including feedback from 6,650 litigants, to put together evidence on the quality of India’s judicial infrastructure. The conclusion is clear: our courts need large-scale imp­rovements to make them more welcoming, accessible and purpose-driven. Here, we chalk out how a day in court for a litigant looks like in most parts of India using this primary data. A handful of readers who have already encountered the system would empathise, but for the majority, who have never had occasion to visit a district court in India, this could be an eye-opener.

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