Saturday, February 09, 2008
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.
I don't think most of the people travelling from far places come to file writ petitions, they will be mostly coming for an appeal.
According writ jurisdiction to lower courts would be interesting, it will give a new dimension to public interest litigation. :)
Thankfully Karnataka HC is inaugurating the bench in N Karntaka this July.
I don't know about Trivandrum.
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