Less Number of Courts Impeding Speedy Justice: NHRC

New Delhi
Less Number of Courts Impeding Speedy Justice: NHRC
Amid clamour for strong laws to deal with sex offenders, NHRC Chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan today said the human rights body cannot agree with some of the punishments suggested as there is "no serious flaw" in the criminal justice system.

Addressing NHRC's 'Consultation on Violence Against Women', he said "very less" number of courts is impeding speedy justice in the country and speedy justice cannot be delivered until there are more courts.

The rights panel organised the consultation to firm up suggestions to curb crime against women in the backdrop of the gang-rape and brutal assault on a 23-year-old girl in south Delhi last month.

"So many people are suggesting so many ways of punishment and that serious punishment should be inflicted (to culprits). At NHRC we cannot agree with some of the comments (suggestions) made," he said without mentioning the demands.

Among various punishments, there have been demands for death penalty or chemical castration for rapists. The Justice J S Verma committee is looking into suggestions made in this regard.

"Sometimes we think there is something very serious with our criminal justice system. I don't think there is any serious flaw in our criminal justice system. Of course, we are not able to provide speedy justice to the victim because we don't have enough courts. That is one major issue which nobody has thought of.

"..There is the question of speedy justice. It is not possible unless there are more and more courts. Judges are not appointed. Magistrates are not selected. There should be drastic changes," Balakrishnan, the former Chief Justice of India, said.

He said there was an unprecedented outrage against the Delhi gang-rape.

Quoting official statistics, Balakrishnan said Delhi has recorded over 400 rape cases in 2011 but the number is half in Mumbai or other cities. "Why is it so? We have to examine this," he said.

"We want a peaceful society and if we don't have a peaceful society, what is meaning of our existence? It is not only police, but citizens also have a duty to maintain law and order. We will violate law and come what may, that attitude is extremely wrong," the NHRC Chairman said.

He asserted that dearth of courts was delaying justice delivery despite judicial officers "working hard many more hours than any bureaucrat in the country".

"Take any metropolitan magistrate court. There are at least 2,000 cases pending in a single magistrate court. I don't think our judicial officers are not working. There may be exceptions. They are working hard. But the number of cases is large," Balakrishnan said.

Stating that number of courts even in smaller countries is more than India, he said the government was not investing enough on judicial system despite the issue being repeatedly raised.

"Appeals should be disposed of in time. There are High Courts where appeals are pending for the last 14 years. Not one or two cases. Large number of cases are pending. The state should invest huge money in judicial system. What is the extent of money that is being spent on judicial system?

"It is almost negligible. This is the plight. But nobody is listening to these things. In all civilised countries there is a large number of courts. Even in a small country like Israel there is large number of courts," Balakrishanan pointed.

He also said the attitude of people should change with regard to their views about women.

"We have to admit this is a male-dominated society. It should end. We should treat our women honourably. In many states this is not the situation. They are in very pitiable condition," he said.

Several suggestions emerged during the day-long consultation and it will be submitted to Justice Verma panel, Balakrishnan said.

The suggestions included those for police reforms, judicial reforms, amendments in CrPC and Juvenile Justice Act, moral and attitudinal changes, role of media in not only preventing violence against women but also proactively bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Measures were also suggested for ensuring psychological, economic and social rehabilitation of victims of sexual assault.

It was strongly felt that proactive action by police followed by speedy justice will be more effective to check the violence against women, the NHRC chairman said.

The suggestions included fixing duty protocol at all level of police hierarchy, DNA test in addition to forensic tests, increase the number of DNA testing and forensic science labs, examination of Juvenile Justice Act provisions and change orientation of doctors while dealing with rape cases.

There were also suggestions to seek amendment in National Commission for Women Act to equip it with a multi-receiver helpline.

It was also suggested that filmmakers need to desist from depicting male chauvinism through eve teasing and item numbers depicting women in poor light.
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