Indians believe their judiciary to be tainted
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
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?