Access to Justice

Access to Justice

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According to the Supreme Court of India,

• The number of pending cases at the end of April, 2009 is 50,148. The huge rush of litigants, despite an increased disposal rate, has proved more than a match for the judges, who hear more than 80 cases a day.

• In January, 2007, the total number of pending cases had become 39,780. The apex court failed to arrest the pendency as it could not cope with the rising number of cases filed very year.

• The 21 high courts, working with a total strength of just 635 judges against a sanctioned strength of 886, reported a pendency of 38.7 lakh cases as of January 1, 2009 against 37.4 lakh cases on January 1, 2008.

According to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (2005): Police Accountability: Too important to neglect, Too urgent to delay,

• The higher judiciary in India almost invariably comes from the elite section of the society and has become a self-appointing and self-perpetuating oligarchy.  The Indian judges appoint themselves with the help of a remarkably self-serving judgment by which the power of appointment was appropriated from the government by the judiciary.  In the absence of any transparency or even any method or system in the manner of appointments, the process lends itself to large-scale arbitrariness and nepotism.  No criteria have been established for choosing and selecting judges.

• In India, for example, women make up only 2.2% of one of the largest police forces in the world.

• Crimes against women abound across India but are too often met with very poor response, with stereotypes and traditionalist attitudes prejudicing the way the predominantly male bastion handles cases. Rapes, domestic violence and trafficking are all under-policed not only because silence, suffering and shame prevent them being brought forward, but also because of the unsympathetic response they commonly receive.

• Victims of domestic violence are routinely belittled and even the presence of special legislation mandating police to protect its victims does not prevent women being turned away and refused relief. Women in custody are often vulnerable to sexual abuse - and increasing occurrences of such incidents prompted India to pass legislation that creates a presumption that where a woman is in custody, any sexual intercourse amounts to rape unless proven otherwise by the custodian.

• India is another country where nepotism is a deciding factor in the appointment of Director Generals of Police. The process has been reduced to state Chief Ministers handpicking their preferred candidates for the role rather than basing the selection on seniority and merit, which is what the actual policy prescribes.

• India has a National Human Rights Commission as well as 206 separate state human rights commissions but does not have a single dedicated civilian oversight mechanism for its 35 police forces, many of which are frequently cited for excessive violence and abuse of power.



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