The Right To Speedy Justice & New Avtar Of Fast Track Courts

Right to speedy trial is the essence of criminal justice and there is no doubt that justice delayed is justice denied. In United States speedy trial is one of the constitutionally assured rights. European Convention on Human Rights also provides that everyone arrested or detained shall be entitled to trial within reasonable time or to release pending trial.i Though right to speedy trial is not specifically enumerated as fundamental right in Constitution of India, it is implicit in the broad sweep of Article 21 ii. Article 21 confers a fundamental right on every person not to be deprived of his life or liberty except in accordance with the procedure established by law. Moreover, the procedure should be reasonable, fair and just. The procedure cannot be fair unless it ensures speedy trial for determination of the guilt of the accused. There can be, hence, no doubt that speedy trial (reas1onably expeditious trial) is an integral and essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21.iii Though the current system on academic plane provides this fundamental right but it faces a crucial crisis due to notorious delays iv. The backlog of about 2 crore cases in the lower courts and 35 lakh in High Courts is the most sneering evidence of the inadequacy of the system. The inordinate delay in the disposal of court cases induces the public to hunt for justice through extra judicial means. Two-thirds of all the cases pending in lower courts are criminal, where 94 per cent of the accused go scot-free. To put it differently the conviction rate is as low as 6 per cent. This raises the question about the efficiency as well as credibility of the criminal justice system.

Connoisseur bodies commencing from the 1925 Report of the Rankin Committee have highlighted the reasons accountable for this trend. Shortly after independence the High Court Arrears Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Justice S.R. das. It submitted its report in 1949.In 1972 Justice J.C.Shah submitted another report v . Besides the reports of successive Law Commissions of India also verified the urgency of combating the problem of over load. Number of times the Apex Court too has glossed upon the matter and issued directions to reduce the ever mounting arrears of cases before the courtsvi. Most of these recommendations have been given a practical shape, but the position instead of improving has further deteriorated. Such an apathetic state of affairs has become a matter of concern to all. The reasons for delay are many and could be classified as court related, legal profession related, litigants related and State related. For the purpose of this article most important reason is the State's lack of priority for matters relating to administration of justice. vii The number of judges appointed replicates no logical equation with the rising court cases and populace. Hon'ble Kirpal, J. (as he then was) in All India Judges Association & Ors v. Union of India &Ors viii pithily stated the anguish of all bothered about holdups in dispensation of justice (JT para24, pp.521-22):

An independent and efficient judicial system is one of the basic structures of our Constitution. If sufficient number of judges are not appointed, justice would not be available to the people, thereby undermining the basic structure. It is well known that justice delayed is justice denied. Time and again the inadequacy in the number of judges has adversely been commented upon. Not only have the Law Commission and the standing committee of the Parliament made observations in this regard, but even the head of judiciary, namely, the Chief Justice of India has had more occasions than once to make observations in regard thereto. Under the circumstances, we feel, it is our constitutional obligation to ensure that backlog of cases is decreased and efforts are made to increase the disposal of cases. Apart from the steps which may be necessary for increasing the efficiency of the judicial officers, we are of the opinion that time has now come for protecting one of the pillars of the Constitution, namely, the judicial system, by directing increase, in the first instance, in the judge strength from the existing ratio of 10.5 or 13 per 10 lakh people to 50 judges for 10...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT