SUBHASH CHANDRA AGRAWAL
Guinness Record Holder & RTI Activist
World Justice Report on ‘Rule of Law Index 2012’ placing India at regretful 78th place in a list of 97 nations for Justice Delivery System should be a cause of concern for Supreme Court of India which should take some concrete steps to improve the system. Justice delayed is justice denied for which unholy culture of frequent adjournments and liberal stay-orders in our courts are a main cause. Unfortunately despite even a division-bench of Supreme Court once rightly observing that many petitioners after taking ex-party stay do not care for disposal of cases which they ultimately lose, system of granting liberal stay-orders is usual and common even in higher courts.
Time has come when a judicial discipline may be enforced to fix some guidelines whereby adjournments and stay-orders may be exception rather than some unwritten rule. Central Information Commission (CIC) should be taken as a role-model where adjournments are very rarely given. Higher courts should at least give priority for disposal of public-interest cases including cases against CIC-verdicts. No constitution-bench has yet been constituted for hearing on Supreme Court approaching itself for three petitions against CIC-verdict since a Division Bench of the Apex Court desired so more than two years ago on 26.11.2010. At least aspect of ‘Information Delayed is Information Denied’ should be avoided by higher courts. First Mondays of every month can be assigned for hearing petitions against CIC-verdicts by concerned bench at Delhi High Court so that any adjournment may not exceed one month in such cases.
Important public-interest writs on electoral reforms filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an association of retired eminent professors of prestigious Indian Institute of Management (Ahmadabad) are not yet listed for hearing at the Apex Court for last so many years which can bring revolutionary change for a fair and justified electoral system in the country. Supreme Court and High Courts should establish special benches for such cases of larger national and public interest.