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Balancing the Scales: The Judiciary's Accountability in The Shadow of Pending Cases, While it Holds other Entities to Account

By Venkatasubramanian Srinivasan

As the custodian of justice and arbiter of public interest, the judiciary wields immense power to enforce accountability on various institutions, ensuring transparency and fairness. However, while the judiciary holds other entities to account, it too must face scrutiny regarding its own responsibilities, particularly in addressing the staggering backlog of pending cases that continue to haunt the corridors of justice.

In recent times, the judiciary has been vocal in its directives to institutions, compelling them to comply with orders in the pursuit of public accountability. Yet, amidst these efforts, a glaring issue persists: the mammoth pile of pending cases, many of which stretch back for decades, languishing without resolution. This backlog not only undermines the efficiency of the judicial system but also raises questions about the judiciary’s own accountability to the public it serves.

The sheer scale of pending cases, numbering in the crores, paints a grim picture of a system struggling to keep pace with the demands of justice. Behind each case statistic lies a story of individuals and communities awaiting closure, seeking redressal for grievances that have lingered unresolved for years, if not decades. Such prolonged delays not only erode public trust in the judiciary but also perpetuate a sense of injustice and disillusionment among litigants.

Despite sporadic efforts to expedite the disposal of cases, the lack of a concrete and transparent framework with defined time limits remains a glaring gap in the judicial system. While some cases may inherently require extensive deliberation, the absence of a systematic approach to prioritize and resolve long-pending cases undermines the judiciary’s credibility as a guardian of timely justice.

Moreover, the opacity surrounding the mechanisms employed by the judiciary to address the backlog further exacerbates public frustration and erodes confidence in the system. Without clear visibility into the strategies, resources, and timelines for tackling pending cases, the public is left in the dark, unable to gauge the efficacy of judicial efforts in this regard.

As the judiciary continues to hold others to account in the interest of public accountability, it must also subject itself to the same level of scrutiny in addressing the longstanding issue of pending cases. Efforts to enhance transparency, streamline processes, and establish time-bound frameworks for case disposal are imperative to restore public trust and ensure that justice is neither delayed nor denied. Only through a concerted commitment to accountability and reform can the judiciary fulfil its mandate to deliver timely and equitable justice for all.

While it is appreciated that the judiciary is seized of the insurmountable backlog, there is a pressing need for transparency regarding the judiciary’s strategy and timeline to clear crores and crores of long-pending cases. This would not only foster public confidence but also demonstrate the judiciary’s commitment to addressing this vital issue.

[The author is a retired international civil servant of the United Nations, presently Founder & Principal Consultant, India i.e., Bharat Knowledge Exchange, and Founder & CEO, Quill & Juris]

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