Question of law

In a country, where its chief justice breaks down in public before the premier, one question surely arises: “Are we serious about judicial reforms?” The blame game won’t do. It is no longer a question of who is more responsible for the plight in which the Indian judicial system finds itself today — the government or the judiciary. Instead, the time is here when both need to sit down and look into the matter.
The problem is worrisome because of the enormous number of pending legal cases at 3.14 crore . Of them, 2.76 are in the lower courts, 38 lakh are pending in the high courts and around 60,000 cases in the apex court. And these are only the cases in formal courts. What if we include cases pending in tribunals like consumer courts, NGT, etc? The number could then rise to five crore or more. Though the tribunals were set up to lessen the burden of formal courts, unfortunately that didn’t happen. This is because the tribunals too have also been transformed into formal courts and in a country of a billion people, with the majority reeling under poverty, the entire issue of pending cases ultimately becomes one of “access to justice”.
If we compare the numbers, there are 13 judges per million Indians against Australia’s 41 judges, Canada’s 75, Britain’s 50 and 70 judges for the US.
Way back in 1987, the law commission had suggested the induction of 40,000 more judges and going by the current number of pending cases, the requirement must be over 50,000 now against a bench str­ength of only 21,000. Other issues that also need ref­orms are adjournments allowed by courts, multiple appeals and the enormous time taken to resolve disp­utes. If many cases are decided in 90 minutes in the US, why can’t we curtail the period of argument here?
The government also needs to keep in mind that legal disputes will keep rising with higher literacy and prosperity. Kerala, with a literacy rate of 90 per cent, has 28 cases filed per thousand citizens each year against only four cases filed in Jharkhand.


WB, AIMA in pact for hindi e-learning

World Bank will partner with India to streamline government procurement of goods and services across sectors. As part of the plan, World Bank has concluded a pact with the All India Management Association (AIMA) to offer public procurement courses in Hindi.

World Bank-AIMA tieup is aimed at capacity building of officials who take part in Rs 5,00,000 crore public procurement every year.

Professional courses, to be offered through 10 channel partners, would include certificate and diploma programmes in the contract management.

World Bank also laun­ch­ed the online procurement business portal here on Thursday.

“English language teac­h­ing was started in 2012. Now Hindi language learning has also been laun­ched,” said A K Kalesh, capacity building coordinator, South Asia procurement, at the two-day procurement summit here.

Over 10 billion officials across the globe are involved in the procurement process and the professional courses are aimed at improving the processes in contracts handled by them.

According to Abduljabbar H Al-Qathab, lead procurement specialist, even one per cent saving in procurement could pay for the poverty alleviation schemes.

For a drop of water

Water scarcity is becoming the most concerning problem for urban India. Data from the ministry of water resources reveals that 22 out of 33 major cities have to deal with a daily shortage of water. Coming to Delhi, I have realised that even the capital city is no different when it comes to coping with water shortage. India faces huge challenges from water scarcity, because per capita availability is going down, while demand is going up due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.
At independence, we had a population of 360 million with per capita water availability of 5,000 cubic metre. Since then, while our population has grown exponentially by four times, per capita water availability has decreased by one third.
We don’t get rains throughout the year, but only for about one or one-and-a-half months, while the rest of the year goes practically dry. This has lead to a situation of where only 30 per cent of the citizens have access to water and the rest have to trek up to around 5 km and or beyond for their regular requirement.
Cities depend on surrounding areas for ensuring uninterrupted supplies, as with Delhi, which is almost entirely dependent on the flow of Yamuna water from Haryana. Leakages are high at even up to 30 per cent, while transporting water. This must be minimised urgently.
The good news this year is of a bountiful monsoon, but this is not the solution. The country must have a well-meaning water policy. The government must also revisit the national water policy and focus on a common integrated perspective around planning and management of water resources. This is because, in India, water is considered to be owned by a particular state, which might be unwilling to share it with its neighbours. Rain harvesting can be very handy, as more than 90 per cent of rainwater goes waste at present. At an individual level, all of us have to be responsible enough to not to waste water or we are heading towards a much worse situation.