Saturday, October 11, 2008


Judicial Reforms

The work load

Let us face it, the Indian Judiciary is simply unable to cope with the number of cases coming up before it.

And the biggest problem is that I do not have statistics to back up that statement.

It is not that statistics are not available; but that it will not be published. By the judiciary itself, that is.

Oh. Yes I have had access to them; on conditions though. What is the need for that secrecy?

Public have a right to know the number of cases pending before the judiciary. And for how long. And what the judiciary is doing about it.

For one, I know that the judiciary is doing something to reduce pendency, by increasing the number of courts. But the polity would not permit it. How is the public to know, unless the information is available unhindered?

Just consider this fact. The Cochin Campus of Department of Legal Studies, Kerala University, as it was then, conducted a study on the pendency of cases before the High Court of Kerala. The scholar who conducted the study went on to become a teacher of law, and retired from service. This study found around eight thousand cases being filed before the High Court of Kerala per year. That was in late 1970s.

In 1994, when I entered the profession, the number of writ petitions alone was around 13,000. In the year 2008, for the month of October, around 25,000 writ petitions have been filed. The number was close to 40,000 in the year 2006 and 2007,

In 1994, when I entered the profession, the number of criminal cases coming up before a typical Magistrate in Ernakulam was around 1800. Today it is above 4000.

4000 cases before the Magistrates? So what is the time he gets to deal with each case? IF he works 350 days a year (that is right, no holidays), he can finish a little more than 11 cases a day. So, if he works 12 hours a days (no - the Magistrate is not a human being to whom the 8 hour working day rule applies - he is a judge who has dispose off litigation as fast as possible) he gets approximately 1 hour to deal with a case,

One hour to go through the charge sheet, examine witnesses, listen to arguments, write a judgement, pronounce the judgement, and of course, arrive at the sentence.

Legislating away litigation

The typical reaction has been to ask the litigant not to file a case. OF course, we lovingly call it "alternate dispute redrssal".

The wise option would have been to increase the number of courts. And the judiciary has umpteen proposals to do that. Only that such proposals which enable to politicians some publicity are approved. Like a proposal to set up a court in the law minister's (or his crony men's) constituency.

We need to get rid of the political shackles on the number of courts and where there are to be set up. That is very important to have a proper and working judiciary.

Last modified: Sat Oct 11 16:17:51 IST 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Judicial Reforms

Getting the Judiciary To Work

Kerala, and some other states in India are facing a strong demand for more benches of the respective High Courts at various places.

How wise is the demand? Are more benches of the High Courts justified?

The main grievance is that people have to go all the way to state capitals, where the High Court Benches are situated to seek redress for their simple grievances. Most of the litigation involves simple writ jurisdiction, where for some reason or other, ordinary courts do have an effective remedy.

The politicians have been consistent in raising the demands - There is a demand for High Court bench in Northern Karnataka, and Trivandrum (the only state capital without a High Court Bench. And the High Courts have been been consistent in refusing. There is even a demand for constituting benches of the Supreme Court in South India.

One thing the politicians forget when they argue that "people cannot be expected to go to state capitals for fighting writ petitions" is the simple fact that writ jurisdiction is in the nature of extra ordinary jurisdiction, a fundamental guarantee protected to "WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA", by ourselves, in our constitution. The constitution has given the politicians the right err.. and obligation (through the legislature) to make laws defining ordinary jurisdiction of ordinary courts.

But every time a new law is made by the legislature, we find some provision in it, which bars jurisdiction of ordinary civil courts.

This forces the public to resort to the extra ordinary jurisdiction vested only in the High Courts under article 226 and 227, and often, Supreme Court.

A simple way out would be to confer writ jurisdiction on the ordinary courts - the District courts, at the very least. There is provision in the constitution itself enabling both the Union and State governments to enact laws defining jurisdiction of ordinary courts.

In later posts, I will elaborate on this.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Got a New Car

Got a WagonR

We took delivery of our new car yesterday - a Maruti WagonR, LXi, Silver colour.

Here is the long story of how we arrived at this choice.

Because Sujatha will be doing most of the driving, her opinions counted a lot. I researched and got details on models, short listed the various variants, and the final decisions were taken together.

First, for safety reasons, we did not even consider LPG variants. And CNG is not available in Kerala right now, so we had to confine our options to petrol versions only. Diesel was out of question because we will not be driving much, and I know from experience that diesels deteriorate pretty fast, if not used regularly.

We had initially decided on the Xeta and even had got the loan sanctioned. Xeta is a great car - great options, features and comforts. It is a big car, good interiors, good a/c, spacious, compact for city driving, and is at the lowest end of the price spectrum for the same number of features. We are a big family, and that certainly influenced our initial choice of Xeta.

That Indica is used as a taxi, was a plus from my view point, since presence of a huge fleet of Indica taxis meant easy availability of spares and service 5 years down the line. However, its taxi image did its own undoing. We wanted a colour which is not used as a Taxi, and the only such colour we could find was Blue. But, the dealers were dithering on giving a definite time line for delivery. We had been ignoring the plenty of negative feed back about the Indica.

Much of the negative feed back against the Xeta was from the web, but I was wary of those, since several (NOT all) stories seemed like deliberate plants by the competition. Good reviews in favour of the competition too did not since convincing, since more than one person seemed to post identically worded reviews at seemingly different periods of time. The lesson I learnt was that one should NOT go by info on various internet fora alone, in choosing one's car and its accessories. But, the state of Indica's website was a factor which weighted much with me when I decided to drop it -- apart from the color issue, that is. One should try the website (tataindica . com is a squatter). You are FORCED to sit through a looongish flash video for the Indigo - another, more expensive model based on the Indica. The problem with this lousy, flash based web design was manifold. The correct site,, was not even in the first 5 in a google search for the words ``Tata Indica''.

The navigation, once the flash video finally ended and redirected me to correct page, was horrid. There was no way I could riht click on a link and open it in a new tab. (I want to compare the information on various pages simultaneously, and tabbed browsing offered by Mozilla is great). I finally decided to invoke the ``If you cannot make a website which I can easily access, you are not competent to make a product which I can use'' rule, about which I have written else where on this blog. Of course, google shows results from, but there is no link from to (I have deliberately omitted the http:// from the above urls - the webmasters, if any, at tatamotors are paid for, I presume, creating good web sites, which they certainly have failed at. And I am not going to help them gain proper ranking for that site.)

True, the Xeta has plenty of features, the specifications were juicy, the finish was good, the test drive was comfortable, and Xeta is not Indica, so bad feed back about Indica does not properly apply to Xeta; and Xeta was initially launched in the GL* variants, and then Tatas upgraded them to GV* series; before switching back to the GL* variants. The interiors have vastly improved between the initial GL* series, GV* series and the current GL* series. Besides, several people, including a neighbour gave me good feed back about the XETA. And no other car - repeat - no other car gives you the same features and small comforts in the interior at the same price as an Indica.

We had also considered at the Chevy UVA - because it was backed by Chevy, and the good warranty, but were not willing to place the same trust on their Spark due to its small size and Daewoo origins. The Chevy sales persons did not even call us back when he learnt that we are looking to buy the UVA as the first car!!! Given that attitude, I have actually decided not to consider chevy again.

Santro was not at all considered - mostly due to a negative rating for back seat comfort by several magazines - we are a joint family, with 5 members. If back seat comfort and pricing (which is slightly in the Xeta than in the WagonR) is not an issue, a buyer can consider Santro. Another negative we found in Santro is spare prices, servicing and resale value. (We were willing to take risks on these issues with Xeta, but not with Santro). Of course, Power steering on Marutis is best, because only Suzuki (seems due to a patent) has Electronic power steering; all others use Hydraulics. Santro Xing looks good and sporty, like the Xeta, but I do not think the same about the other models from the Hyundai stable.

Palio was ruled out for same reason as Santro. Fiat is not very quick when it comes to selling and upgrading its products in India, a fact demonstrated in the huge gap between the Uno and launch of Palio and between the several upgrades to the Palio itself. Besides, the Tata sales persons were not keen to sell the Palios - probably because we approached them with the Xeta, and we were keen on the Xeta initially.

Alto, which we were considering initially, lost due to its small size; and the Estillo (No, I will NOT call it a Zen) looks like an ugly bug. Swift was out of our range, and looks as ugly as the Estilo in both of our eyes.

There is no particular reason we choose the WagonR, it is only that other cars got excluded one by one. Thus, WagonR won more by default than on merits, in spite of its ugly and boxy looks, high price, etc.,

On the 2nd day of purchase, I do not find anything justifying the 80K more we have paid over the Xeta GLS. My main grouse at the moment with the WagonR is that unlike the Xeta, there is no provision for speakers in the front doors and in the rear. I am not sure if there is wiring for audio provided; the rear seats are folding; but are not split. The internal light is not as bright as in the Xeta; but those are only cosmetics.

Oh well; I will give more feed back, as we keep using it, and get used to it. But I like being driven around than driving myself; so my reviews will be from a very different perspective. So, stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Web Standards

This is for the Marketing honchos, CEO and CIOs out there.

I am not going to buy products from you, if your web site offers
information in flash. Flash is a content delifery format heavy on
bandwidth, resource hungry, and most important of all, it NOT A

In flash, I cannot control what I want to see. I cannot control the
font sizes, I cannot control the screen area, and flash looks
different on my two computers - one is a 15inch monitor, and the other
is a 17 inch one.

I cannot control popups, I cannot get links to different pages to open
different tabs (I use mozilla); and if I cannot control the way I get

The reason I rely on the internet err... YOUR website is that your
salesmen are ... well ... just salesmen. They do not know about your
products, they do not have the time, patience or knowledge to deal
with my questions about specifications and performance of your hitech

Do not tell me that html is bad. I am pretty good at web designing
myself, and know what is achievable.

If your business is ignorant about how to design good web pages, you
have no business selling hitech products.

And just to warn you - last time I shopped for mobile phones, I did
NOT buy a nokia hand set because their navigation menu was in flash /
javascript and that was not working properly in my Mozilla firefox.
And I had no reason to purchase a product from a manufacturer who did
not know what the W3C is. (If you are a Marketing manager / CEO, W3C
means the world wide web consortium, and if you are CIO and did not
know that, please change jobs NOW).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


New Blog

I am starting a new blog at

Do not ask me why I chose a strange name. The names I wanted were
already taken (and the horrid guys are not even using it!!!).

This blog is now going to talk only about strictly personal matters.
All contentt relating to law, free software, technology etc will now
go there.

Saturday, April 21, 2007



Why do fundamentalists restrict social activity?

Ever wondered why fundamentalists are against all kinds of entertainment? They are against music. Videos and images are a strict no-no. Painting is frowned upon. Nobody should even mention drama and dancing.

Ever wondered why?

That gives people more time to spend on religion. Since religious activity is already controlled by fundamentalists, this translates into spending more time listening to religious tirades.

Cool, is it not?

That is why they also target economic activity -- tourism, trade, businesses run by non -- natives in an ethnic area, anything which makes the public dependent on them, at least, render the common man unemployed or under employed. The less than optimally employed people then turn to these organisations, and all the economic difficulties faced by the victims is of course, put on ``others''.

Monday, April 16, 2007



Upgrading Sid!!!

Of late, Debian's sid was getting boring -- no breakages, no -- uninstallable packages, no broken dependencies, no unstable packages, no excitement. Life was getting a bit dull and dreary.

And then it happened -- Etch was released. That means the ``testing'' -- sym link is moved to point to ``stable''. Which means ``testing'' and ``unstable'' aka. Sid are ready for developers to play around with. A stable release is the time when major upgrade to ``sid'' happen.

And I having been using Sid for a looooong time now - close to 7 years. the usual procedure has been to install a minimal ``Woody'' package and edit the /etc/apt/sources.list file to point to Sid. And I had to reinstall once - two years back, when at 2.00 am, I did a sudo rm /root/ * -rvf (yes, I still remember the command; and if you have not noticed, the problem was caused by the space before the *). That was the only problem with Sid I could not manage.

Right now, I did an apt-get update, and find that Sid now has version 2.5 of GNU libc6. And that means major updates to several packages are in the offing. Indeed, version 2.6.20 of the Linux kernel is in, which promptly installed and rebooted into. There is a marked improvement in performance -- this a PIII chugging along at -- 800 MHz with 256 megs of ram!!

And yes, major updates means an occassional broken dependency, which may last for a few weeks even, and that is likely to break several things, and I am keeping my fingers crossed - I never had a broken system due to broken dependencies, and hope I will not have a broken system now.

If you want to know when you installed your Debian, do this:-

 luser@desktop:~$ ls /var/log/installer*

And this is what I get:-
 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 95871 2005-06-19 02:49 /var/log/installer.log -rw-r--r-- 1 root root  3401 2005-06-19 02:49 /var/log/installer.timings 
That should tell you a couple of things about your install process!!

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