ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Are People Losing Faith inthe Courts?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no litigation explosion. The data from the courts themselves suggests that fewer civil cases are being filed while criminal cases have been steadily increasing. This suggests that litigants are approaching the courts in fewer numbers, and may be resortingto other methods to resolve disputes. It may also be possible that the increase in criminal litigation could be attributed to the use of criminal law to resolve civil disputes.

A trailer for the Hindi film Jolly LLB 2 has a voice-over direly  intoning the crisis in the Indian judiciary—3.5 crore cases pending, and only 21,000 judges to clear them (FoxStarHindi 2017). Yet, the voice of actor Akshay Kumar assures us, whenever two Indians have a dispute, they still tell each other, “See you in court.” The “Jolly LLB” series of films have probably done more than most in unpacking the many failings and shortcomings of our judicial system, and this trailer reassures us of the larger theme of the film; that the court is still where you must go to obtain justice in this country. It repeats, somewhat unthinkingly, the claim made by many judges, lawyers, policymakers and politicians: “the people” have faith in the judiciary.

Do they? A variant of this question was raised in an important paper written by Eisenberg et al (2013). Examining the data relating to civil litigation in the lower courts in India, they concluded that, contrary to popular myths of a“litigation explosion,” the rate of civil litigation in India is not as much as it should be for a country of its population and economic growth. The explanation they hinted at was that the high backlogs and the time it would take to clear the existing caseload were probably deterring litigants from approaching the courts. They looked specifically at data for high courts and district courts during 2005–10, but has anything changed in the seven years since? It has—but only for the worse.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 27th Apr, 2017

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top