Perhaps contemporary India’s most over-hyped institution is its loudly proclaimed independent judiciary. Despite the plain truth that it is the world’s most archaic and slowest judicial system, there’s no shortage of delusional nationalists ready to sing its praises. Yet the plain facts are that currently there are 33 million cases pending in the country’s too-few courtrooms in which the judges to citizenry ratio is a woeful 19 per million citizens cf. 56 in South Korea, 70 in the US and 144 in China. Way back in 1987 the Law Commission had recommended that India’s judge-citizen ratio should be increased to 50 per million. But that recommendation is yet to be implemented.
This pathetic shortage of judges and judicial officers is compounded by a shortage of police personnel. In India the police-people ratio is 1:720. In the US the ratio is 1:436 , Spain 1:198, South Africa 1:347. To add to the misery of the citizenry most policemen are recruited on considerations of kith and kinship with the powerful neta-babu brotherhood, rather than on merit, with the result they are unable to solve even the simplest of cases. The ineptitude of the country’s police and judiciary is dramatically highlighted by the recent acquittal of six cow vigilantes accused of lynching Pehlu Khan, a cattle trader in Alwar (Rajasthan) in broad daylight on April 5, 2017. This despite video footage clearly depicting this outrageous crime and a sting operation footage of a television news channel showing the accused admitting to the horrific murder.
Notwithstanding the fact that the judicial system generates revenue for the Central government — 21st century India is one of the few countries worldwide which imposes court fees on civil suits — the provision made in the Union Budget 2019-20 of Rs.27.86 lakh crore for the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms is a mere Rs.292.26 crore. Overwhelming!