Stalled Wheels of Justice

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is a legal maxim that is often used to buttress the need for speedy justice. But what do we make of justice if it is served to a humble postman accused of stealing 57 rupees and 60 paise or a poor bus conductor charged with siphoning off 5 paise after legal battles that lasted for 29 years and 41 years, respectively? What do we make of justice if it costs so much that a retired senior bureaucrat and a senior Supreme Court judge say that they cannot afford the cost of litigation?


What comes closest to this idea of manifest injustice is ‘justice delayed’ and ‘unequal access to justice’. There are various impediments and roadblocks to the dispensation of justice that can be termed as fair. Many of them are beyond the control of the judiciary itself. But a Bharat envisioning to become developed by 2047 needs to have a judiciary enabled by technology, guided by integrity, and motivated to provide quick relief. Piled-up case files, vacant judicial positions, and crumbling spaces cannot be the hallmark of a ‘nation on the move’. To clear these impediments, a concerted effort is required from all the stakeholders starting from government to litigants to the bar and the bench.


The judiciary needs to be sophisticated and driven by the zeitgeist of high productivity, and judges need to have modern courtrooms so they can deliver justice swiftly. Stalled Wheels of Justice is not a commentary on law. That is something best left to jurists, lawyers, and constitutional experts. This is the story of law not being able to transform into justice. This is the story of denied insaaf and delayed nyaya. This is the story of a process that the author witnessed as a court reporter—a process that former chief justice of India N.V. Ramana equated with punishment. When the process itself becomes the punishment, poor justice-seekers become the first victims. Even when relief and judgments come forth, they are often empty of substance for they are pyrrhic victories. Much has been said and written from the points of view of persons in black robes, university professors, and intellectuals. But what about from men and women of the country who bore the heavy burden of injustice? This is the story of a faulty process, solvable unsolved problems, and, above all, of people at the end of the spectrum.