Courts in Bihar: neither Physical nor Virtual, where will this system go?
Final Year Law Student,
Bihar Institute of Law, Patna
IS IT APPROPRIATE FOR THE COURT TO SHUT THE COURTS COMPLETELY IN BIHAR ?
Closing the courts to the citizens will unhinge the Constitution and the many statutes protecting them. The courts implement the rule of law and society has no other protective recourse. Any situation which denies the access of justice to the citizenry will have serious repercussions on the rule of law itself.
Patna High Court has not issued any notification after 13.05.2021, How Court proceeding would continue. As same in Districts of Bihar after 12.05.2021 no further notification has been issued.
There are several aspects to the problem in these trying times:-
1. RULE OF LAW: Access to justice is a very important and determinative factor before any of the options are considered. People may wrongfully be under incarceration deserving bail, some will need protection from eviction/dispossession of their properties, aggravated actions of the executive and the wings of government will have to be restrained which effects their rights of life and also their right to property and other fundamental rights, protection from arbitrary actions of the instrumentality is of the state, people seeking protection from land mafia and other antisocial elements, avaricious financial institutions grabbing valuable market and hypothecated assets women and children seeking maintenance in matrimonial courts, women and children of foreign nationalities to travel to their home in this hour of crisis,. The list is endless. To cite Justice John Paul Stevens of the US Supreme Court, “It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law”.
To suggest and implement that the courts will shut down is an invitation to anarchy, gangsterism, breakdown of law and order and a road to naked authoritarianism.
2. EXACERBATING BACKLOG: Closing down courts will magnify the problem by many folds the backlog of cases. It would also be a serious infringement of the right of the parties to a constitutional guaranteed fair and speedy trial.
3. SHUTDOWN WILL BE SELF-SERVING: It is important that social distancing demanded by the scientists and doctors requires to be followed. But the fear of the pandemic to completely shut down the courts and thereby deprive access to justice is a move which can only be perceived as the right exercised by an entitled group. People are manning the healthcare centers, hospitals, essential services like education, electricity, water, sanitation, transportation of food and materials into the areas of human habitation across the Bihar, policing not to mention the Armed Forces. To claim complete protection for ourselves at the cost of millions of litigants would be viewed and perceived as self-serving.
LIBERALISM OF THE COURTS :It is important that the courts are liberal. This is not a tall order to ask. People who approach the courts spend a lot of their life’s time and energy and money. The courts are invariably the last resort of the people after all other instrumentalities of the state have failed them. It is in many ways imperative to take a broader and liberal view of the difficulties faced by the scores of litigants.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
- Take up all Civil and Criminal matters.
- Ensure regular updates on Court functioning on the respective websites.
- Upload the orders of the benches same day.
-Accept the Urgent Matters for mentioning instead of a copy-paste reply of "Not Considered As of Now"
- EMAIL QUERIES AND EMAIL RESPONSES TO QUERIES FROM BENCH :
There may be situations where the courts may require a response on certain specific issues. On such occasions are limited oral hearing or even queries can be emailed to the lawyers/clients. And a response to that can be elicited again on an email.
In this age of Covid 19, time has come to make fundamental changes in how we continue to work and ensure that that the justice delivery system will carry on relentlessly and ensure the rule of law.