Judicial Reforms:‘Inept judges to blame for mess’

‘Inept judges to blame for mess’


Mumbai: “Many judges, right from the magistrate’s court to the Supreme Court, are incapable of dealing with criminal cases,’’ said Bilal Nazki, who retired recently as chief justice of Orissa high court. “Add to this inefficient policemen, public prosecutors and defence lawyers. That is why we are in such a mess today,’’ added Nazki who was delivering the valedictory address at a two-day seminar on criminal justice reforms at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on Saturday.

According to him, criminal appeals since 1988 are still pending in the Bombay high court primarily because no judge is interested in reading the case. “Judges don’t want to touch such files because they know they can’t deal with them,’’ he said. Citing an example of the apathy of the system to the rights of the undertrials and prisoners, he said a man had spent five years in jail even after being acquitted.

Nazki stressed that human rights activists need not look to only trouble-torn states such as J&K for violations. “Maharashtra has more human rights violations than J&K,’’ he said. “The highest number of custodial killings are in Maharashtra,’’ he said.

Nazki said the Mumbai police had invoked a section of the Code of Criminal Procedure which even the J&K government had not done in so many years. He was referring to the preventive detention of activists Firoze Mithiborewala and Aslam Ghazi who were picked up by the police a day before US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was to arrive in Mumbai.

The police said they had been picked up because they were likely to hold anti-US demonstrations. The section which they applied says that if the police has reliable information that a person may commit a cognisable offence, he\she may be taken into custody.

The former chief justice was also critical of the way the judicial system blindly accepts the police version in case of encounters. He said the judicial system cannot improve unless the number of judges are increased five-fold. At present, he said, there are 12,000 magistrates to Supreme Court judges in the country. He said human rights activists ought to take up the issue of better protection for policemen who combat Naxalites.

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