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Indians believe their judiciary to be tainted

May 30, 2007

A report by Transparency International released a few days ago says that the majority of the Indian people believe their judiciary to be corrupt. As many as 77 per cent of the respondents said so.
Transparency International polled 59,661 people in 62 countries last year, and they found that in “one third of these countries more than 10 per cent of respondents who had interacted with the judicial system claimed that they or a member of their household had paid a bribe to obtain a ‘fair’ outcome in a judicial case.”

In terms of perception more Indians rate their country badly, than the Pakistanis rate Pakistan, Thai’s rate Thailand or Malyasians rate Malaysia. In contrast, an overwhelming majority of the people in Sweden and Singapore thought their country was not corrupt. Citizens of Norway and Germany too gave their country the thumbs up. People in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand did not fare badly at all, with a majority of their citizens believing that their country was not corrupt. Those living in the UK, South Africa, Canada or Japan felt the same. About a third of Canadians believed their country has a corrupt justice system.

But the majority of those living in India (77 per cent), Nigeria, Gabon and Mexico thought their country to be corrupt, But ofcourse not as many as those who are from Peru and Cameroon, where an overwhelming majority thought their country was corrupt.

A quote from the report concerning India:

The degree of delays and corruption has led to cynicism about the justice system. People seek short cuts through bribery and favours, leading to more unlawful behaviour. A prime example is the unauthorized buildings in Indian cities. Construction laws are flouted in connivance with persons in authority

People in Chile, Poland and Pakistan came out somewhere in the middle and USA, Indonesia, Greece, Spain and Kenya followed closely.

Ofcourse the survey is based on perceptions and therefore cannot be said to have any scientific basis. Also, people in different countries judge the level of corruption by different criteria. Judicial corruption can be evaluated by three aspects:

1. Judges and court officials
2. Lawyers
3. The Police

In India I am sure that it is the judges and court officials that people are referring to when they say their country’s legal system is corrupt although there is a strong awareness here that the lawyers and the police are corrupt. In countries like America I feel that people have lost faith in lawyers who are known to manipulate the system.

Whether this survey has any basis or not, what it does reflect is the level of dissatisfaction our countrymen feel towards their country. I think this is a good sign. I mean, if a country has a problem and its acknowledged, then it is far more likely to be fixed. We are a democratic nation and if the public believes that this we are in such a bad state, the politicians better shut up and listen. I think instead of attacking these findings and trying to shove them under the carpet the government needs to spend its energy in improving the judicial system.

I have heard of corrupt judges, but haven’t heard of any judge who was prosecuted and jailed. I have heard of politicians going into jail, even policemen being hounded and prosecuted, but right now I can’t think of a single judge who has been made an example of.

Sure, one hears of judges resigning or being transferred mysteriously. But judges are never investigated by the media and that is why we never know whats happening. If I was working in a television channel I would carry out a sting operation on judges. They are the ones who are supposed to be backbone of the judicial system. Whats the use of catching a corrupt politician if a corrupt judge lets him out?

A corrupt judge should be more severely punished than others.

One of the reasons given for the high level of corruption in the judicial system in India is (according to the report) the high backlog of cases. As of February 2006, 33,635 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, 3.34 lakh cases in high courts, and 2.5 crore cases in 13,204 sub-ordinate courts. People tend to bribe judges to get their case heard before the others.

The ratio of judges to people is low (at 12-13 per one million people) in India. The figure is 107 judges to a million people in the United States, 75 in Canada and 51 in the United Kingdom. But these figures are totally misleading as they seem to imply that that our judges are overworked. The truth is that serious crime per million of population is 81210 in Canada, 60970 in France, 17728 in Japan and 42668 in the USA as compared to 1790 in India. Even the total crime in India is only 6710 as against 302670 per million people in the USA. The trend in civil cases is similar. I have written about it here.

In other words, our judges take too many holidays. That is a known fact. I also believe that they waste their time on trivial cases. No priority. Why waste time sentencing Shilpa Shetty because she was kissed, when known criminals are cooling their heels as undertrials? True, our higher courts are mostly honest, but why should the common man spend money to appeal to the High court to get justice? Whats the use of the lower courts then?

Why do you think villagers take the law into their own hands or village panchayats mete out their own brand of justice? Its because our lower judiciary can be paid to deliver judgements.

I think only a media sting operation can out the fear of God into the judiciary. Why should the judiciary be above the law? Or above criticism? Why should only the Supreme Court be allowed to criticize the judiciary?

Related Reading: Ministers steal money meant for slum development
Slum Rehab project in trouble
The richer you are , the less corrupt you are!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. ram permalink
    May 31, 2007 1:10 am

    The slowness is more annoying than the corruption. It has become so slow that, people do get time manipulate the facts. Most of the cases can be dragged for decades when the matter might have lost the relevance.

    The worst thing is above all is , the judiciary is out dated!!. Usually it is updated frequently in developed countries. But I rarely hear about indian constitution or judiciary get amended.

    One good example is our ‘Salman Khan’ get way with many accidents with amount of just 1000 Rs !!
    The time has changed ,people have become smart. And any one can kill someone purposefully in accident and get way from murder charges.

  2. pushkar damle permalink
    September 17, 2007 11:15 pm

    I have gatherred information under Right to Information act about Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, Mumbai which is a ice bug and the picture poped up is very dangerous for the citizens (common man) of the country and the act of mis-use of judicial power is becoming a daily routine which will lead the country to the worst as corruption in judiciary is going up and up every day and some shoud take initiative to stop this otherwise judiciary will take the charge of the contry and the voice of a comman man will be dead.

  3. September 18, 2007 12:15 am

    Thanks Pushkar! (and Ram too! Don’t know how I missed that comment!)
    Unfortunately those who fight corruption can get killed. There are several cases like this.
    the best solution is to use the RTI Act, the media, and elect better people who will get rid of the tainted judiciary. But I am cynical as of now…it will take years…

  4. November 12, 2007 12:23 pm

    As we are living in supposedly the largest democracy in the world, any reform in any govt department should be done in a democratic manner. There should be an election with referendum for election of judges. They shouldn’t be given any immunity and they should be accountable for even spelling mistakes and errors in sentence construction in the judgments they deliver. Any judge who is out of mark and not upto the standards should be recalled. He or She shouldn’t be given any pension and all the facilities given to them should be withdrawn with immediate effect. Then and then only, India can be a pioneer in Judicial reforms and set a standard for other countries to follow. There will be no nepotism and corruption which mark the functioning of Judiciary as of now. God bless India!

    Thanks Ram Prasad for your response to this very important post. Yes I agree that there should be accountability otherwise the situation will never improve. – Nita.

  5. B K Mishra permalink
    June 4, 2008 5:42 pm

    Indian judiciary works corruptly when culprit has source in the court. I see that criminal justice system is used as weapon to harass innocent and thus court turned out to be weapon of harassment and vengeance for innocent.

  6. B K Mishra permalink
    June 4, 2008 5:51 pm

    To save judiciary remove contempt power so that people could raise the malpractice of court. Otherwise voice against corruption can not be raised by the masses as no one wants to be involved in going jail on speaking against judiciary.

  7. psripada101 permalink
    January 26, 2009 4:38 pm

    My respect for your blog increases with every post I read.The only statistic which the judiciary repeats to justify judicial delays is the one relating to the population-judge ratio.You are the first to bring out the population- serious crimes ratio.Where did you get the figures from? Your research is great.Evidently you are not only a blogger,but a slogger. Keep it up.

  8. Arun permalink
    May 5, 2009 2:18 am

    In my opinion, central issue of corruption in Indian Judiciary, particularly Trial Courts is no suo motu action in even crystal clear false case Courts only interested to try the matter in decades to generate vacancies and giving long dates even beyond one year so clever people/advocates lodged the complaints to settle the score behind the Courts i.e. Temple of Justice being used as a tool of weapon even to perform the Legal Murder with the help of money to involve the advocates, Judges as active participants, enjoy MERA BHAARAT MAAHAN, INCREDIBLE INDIA, SATYA MEV JAYATE AFTER DEATH. Law made for rich people, Courts and Law are not made for innocent/victims, There are warning bell for Supreme Courts. People are coming from outstations, Courts mark their presence and gives date, in absence issue warrants. Corruption may be removed in ONE DAY if there is any WILL. For instance every one knows in One thousand rupees case file can move outside the Courts Building for copy, any one can try in any case in any court. Use scientific instruments to remove corruption, only science is capable, demask everyone with the help of spy cameras. Jo It it paisa mange uski it se it bajado. Qurbaan yourself….. Jai Bhaarat

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