Witness to the working of the lower judicial system in India
Syed Ali Mujtaba
I have been witness to the functioning of the lower judiciary in the district court of Shiekhpura, Bihar and was appalled with the way things are there. The court premise is a world on its own and the working of the lower judiciary at the premises of the district court gave me the impression that it is a big thug house.
There are two sets of people I found roaming around. One the aggrieved ones, who have been subjected to some sort of injustices, and had come to seek legal remedy, the other ones those who are preying on them and ready to rob of their money by hook or crook.
In these two sets one is of foolish people and other is of crooks that think are intelligent. They intelligent there go by the adage that as long as foolish live, they wont go hungry.
To me money was raining that premises. The aggrieved one has no option than to cough off money and those preying on them are ever ready to live on it.
The earning of a clerk in the judicial court maybe not less than thousand rupees a day, while the ‘peshkar’ who is the in charge of the office and considered to be close to the judge could be much higher in daily terms.
Most of the aggrieved are first timers and are being fleeced left write and centre. The lawyers are biggest thugs in such system. Most of them who cannot write a straight sentence but some how got the degree to wear black court are making a killing by charging extra ordinary fee and giving all kinds of hope.
In this system the judges too are hand in glove. They have a habit of prolonging the cases for many years. In the end some even demand a price for writing the judgment.
The main sufferer in this system is the litigant who has to run from pillar to post and has to empty his pocket each time he visits the court. It appears there is little reform happening in such sphere of activity.
The most puzzling thing is from where the reform process has to start. Every one seems to be happy trying to live in that system. There appears to be a perfect balance being established there. No one wants to stick its neck in such challenging task.
The other thing that disturbed me was to find the handcuffing of the criminals when they were brought to be produced in the courts. It seems that the practice of British Raj is still continuing there even today.
I found the criminals just like dogs being handcuffed and tied with a rope and taken to the courts and the police personal. Most of the so called criminals were over aged and the law for senior citizen does not seem to work here.
Most of them look to be victim of enmity and by their face did not looked hardened criminals. Most of them were poor who cannot afford legal help.
The over burden of the cases in the court and the long time being taken in the disposal of the cases were denying justice to such criminals, most of them booked for petty crimes.
The human dignity was definitely being denied to such criminals and they were treated like animals. I wondered where NGOs were and other such organizations that work on such issues are hiding in that part of the world. There seems to be hardly anyone raise their voices and push for reforms.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He hails from Bihar and recently had visited his native place Shiekhpura and based on his observation prepared this report. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org