Jury service and e-hearing – dealing with shortage of judges


Justice delayed is justice denied

The number of cases pending in our courts is mind boggling. Apart from inadequate infrastructure, legal assistants and archaic process, the biggest contributor to this problem is the huge shortage of judges which is inhibiting our courts to take up and close more cases. It is estimated that about 2.5 Crores (as of mid 2013) cases are pending in lower courts.
We will tackle this problem both by re-instating a practice from the past, the jury trial process and embracing modern technology enabled tool, the e-hearing process. 
Jury trial basically will be implemented as a process of identifying and comprising a panel of regular citizens of good legal standing from all walks of life (education NOT being a criteria). The panel is expected to be neutral and arrive at a verdict by sitting through all the court proceedings of the case they are appointed for. Severe action will be taken against anyone found to attempt influencing the jury members through cash or kind favors or threats. It will be a criminal offence. The employers of any selected jury member will be mandated to allow them to stay away from work when on jury duty with full pay not considering those days as vacations. Jury trial is nothing new, this existed in British India. Because of the pretty much one sided rules in composing the jury and verdicts that came out of it, it did not find any place in the post independence constitution. Law commission recommended its abolition in 1958 and 1973 Code of criminal procedures banned it. It is expected that one legal expert can guide multiple juries instead sitting through all proceedings them self, this way increasing the efficiency of our courts
With significant and reliable advancement in video conference and modern communication technologies, we will start legalizing court proceedings attended from remote locations through video conference (VC). This will drastically minimize instances of adjournment of hearing because of non-availability of the plaintiff, judge or any of the required participants. All police stations will be equipped with VC facility  which can be used by citizens free of cost to attend any court proceedings.
To add rigor in their adoption and clearing the legal logjam ASAP, these methods from now will be the default systems of hearing for any new case registered from 1-Jan-2015 unless there is convincing reasons to go for the traditional method.
We must understand that any change will take its time to settle down and we need to invest more time and money in the beginning to make it a success. I am confident that by taking such bold and positive steps, we will see significant drop in the pending cases in a few years to come.

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Grandmas…the family glue

I happened to lose my paternal and maternal grandpas when I was quite young but was fortunate to have my grandmas for a long time enough to realize their value in the family system, here I am just trying to put it in words.

Its a huge extended family we have on both sides. My paternal grandma though not physically in the best of conditions with her mobility chose to live most part of her life all by herself in a big family home at our native village amongst the company of other close relatives in adjacent houses. She was assisted by a trusted godsend for anything and everything that needed to be transacted with the world external to our home. When needed, she had the skills to arrange more personnel to assist. A natural effective administrator, she was the Sun of a solar system around her.
Our Hindu way of living loads our calendar with a lot of opportunities for family get togethers in the form of celebrating birthdays of Gods or as commomoration of the fall of demons of our mythologies and even in the form of anniversaries of dear ones we lose from our life over time. So nice of our parents (my dad and his siblings) that they tried their best to get back to our hometown for most of these events. For us cousins, the kido-army of the family it was pure fun to be together at the cost of parents’ peace. Can’t think of any better way to enjoy school holidays and experience tradition, goes without saying the never-ending array of authentic stuff to feed on. It used to be riot on the street with us being there with nothing to fear as almost all the houses were of our own relatives.
My grandma remembered to ensure every little detail is taken care of before we arrived including favorite snacks to be prepared. Arranging supplies of banana leaves to served food on, who said the west came up with the concept of disposables. Arranging for enough supply of milk during the days of our visit though we used to own cows but not as much to feed THE army, inviting people for occasions though snail mail, arranging for enough helpers with domestic chores. Remember, I am not talking of the days where everyone had a motorized vehicle to rush to the nearest departmental store to pick stuff or order online/ phone. We neither had the vehicle at home nor a departmental store in the village, nor a phone and online what?…it was all about planning and optimizing your trips to the nearby town. She did it best, on top of it being a consultant to the entire extended family on rituals, important dates of Hindu calendar, connect the dots when anyone tries trace through family history to recognize relatives. Many a times this exercise ends up converting friends and acquantances into relatives…
Moving on to my maternal side. Again, our typical summer vacations were spent 50-50 between pattern and maternal grandparents…never missed the hill stations or beaches. We just never knew about that kind of vacations. We used to call our maternal grandma as manni which means elder brother’s wife. It’s because she was the wife of the eldest brother in a huge family. Being called manni by the majority at home made her manni to all including her own children and grandchildren. She was no less than Leonardo da vinci to me. An encyclopedia of knowledge who could tell even the remotest of little story from our epics, who had gone through the pains of India Pakistan partition first hand and moved to India in those conditions with a few weeks old baby on hand (my mom) in 1947 to start life afresh. One who was oozing ideas and who could also implement those ideas be it sewing, cooking, sketching, making innovative effective tools, so much so well that even at an age of 96 she found a way to neatly remove a hard p-o-p cast on her broken hand.  A person who I’ve never seen complaining even once in her life time about ANYTHING, something I wish to follow, the rest of her talent admittedly is beyond my abilities.
Too many words, still failing to express all my thoughts about my grandmas. If you try, I am sure it’ll be  no different.
As long as the grandmas were around, they were the hub of activities. Either directing others on some next-steps or in their later days, indisposed, drew friends and relatives from far seas visiting constantly or ringing in to check on them. And suddenly it stops. It stops so abruptly that it is impossible to miss. Every time I go to my village home  house now, yes, without her it looks a house. The silence is deafening. It’s long since all the cousins got together, maybe the last was when she left us…
Grandma! undoubtedly, are the glue of families. Anyone having a grandma now don’t fail to appreciate, thank and take care of them. Ones who don’t have their grandmas, don’t forget them and their contributions to your life.

देर है पर अन्देर नही !

Wow! There’s no other way to express myself on the 2014 Lok Sabha election results. After a few decades this nation has now stood together in delivering a verdict so telling about what it was going through with the incumbent coalition led by Congress. The down turn started right when they decided to have a highly respected and learned economist as a mere mute pawn for all the vicious moves that were planned to be staged.

The final numbers are so staggering that it forces me to get out of this long slumber away from blogging.

Listing 3 of many that must make anyone go WOW!

  1. Narendra Modi wins in Vadodara by a margin of 5.7 Lakhs, highest ever victory margin
  2. BJP wins 71 seats in just the state of UP, Congress and it’s allies put together all India 58 (206 in 2009)
  3. Full sweep by BJP in 12 states/union territories

Ever since elections were announced and the dust settled down in the BJP camp on their choice for Prime Ministerial candidate, the only term that caught the country like wild fire is NaMo/Narendra Modi. He was a winning package bringing in everything needed to make heads turn (credited for the success of Gujarat as a model state), eyebrows raise (Gujarat communal violence), build confidence with strangers (eloquent speech) and win the faith of the crowds with proven track record (success story of Gujarat which he was heading for over a decade).

The scale of this victory so overwhelming that it inspires me to draw a parallel of Modi’s achievement with that of another Gujarati, Mahatma Gandhi, for the capability to get this diverse nation stand together for one cause, the nation itself. I will not be surprised if by drawing this parallel I am criticized for going over board, but the achievement is no small one too by any scale. Everyone had long written off any possibility of any one party winning a total majority at the center, I don’t think even members of BJP would’ve dreamt of such results. It’s one of the ‘Gone are those days…’ items to have a Government in the center with total majority.

It has been a one man show throughout. In fact, BJP almost had nothing else to offer than Modi. It will be interesting to see the cabinet that they now will put together. Modi backed with a very efficient PR machinery rolled(roared) into action and projected the leader Narendra Modi on the face of every person in every possible medium so much so that it almost looked like that the Congress had given up at one point, even their attempt to come up with a thematic media projection of Rahul fell flat right at the get go. I think the low standard comment of Mani Shankar Iyer taking a dig on Modi’s past as a Tea seller was the Waterloo moment of Congress. It just gave away a golden opportunity that was so well utilized by Modi’s camp to literally mesmerize the people all the way into the polling both.

Rahul Gandhi was never a match to Narendra Modi in any angle. His television interview drove the last nail into the coffin of his political career, IMHO. At times, I pity him for being such a misfit pushed into something that neither he shows genuine interest nor comes naturally to him. I am sure Congress will next try to bring Priyanka to the fore. She is always seen to be a more dynamic, smart and Indira look alike personality.

Personally, I am glad that the Congress is decimated to such a nobody. Hope they learn from their mistakes, loads of them and get out of their dynastic dependence, elitist behavior and start thinking about the people.

With the laddoos distributed, fireworks exhausted and victory laps completed, its show time. Narendra Modi will fill the top seat with huge expectations from the people. He must first bring back honor to the PM seat. Its a while since the people saw a PM who could speak freely and connect with the people. I feared if Modi, who was successful in Gujarat with a majority power could  pull it off  running a tough coalition which is a lot different ball game. Luck could be it, he will now occupy the big seat with a total majority. Hope he lives up to the expectations.

A majority government needs a responsible and strong opposition as well to keep them honest, hope for now, that will be taken care of jointly by AIADMK, TMC and Congress.

Lots to be done, lots to be changed, for now it’s his day…wishing him well in the new job and the nation under his leadership.

This is a change we all signed up for, we need to participate and we must make it succeed, if not blame ourselves. We’ve again proved that we are the most vibrant democracy.

Just 30+, still my days are counted

I must be proud that members of my family pretty much rule the world. We are now an unavoidable part of everything that runs the planet, from taking financial decisions to conducting life saving medical surgeries and from guiding mass murderous missiles to enabling terrorists in executing their vicious plans, we are involved. However, I am not so happy of the fact that it’s just about 30 years since my generation started in my family and I already see that we are fast being neglected.

I am the Laptop and I belong to the family of computers.

Though the exact year of my birth is still not traceable and along with it the person who created me. It is widely accepted that it was Adam Osborne who created the first of my kind in 1981 that reached a commercially viable scale. It was called Osborne-1 a cute fat looking model. Xerox PARC made an handsome NoteTaker a few years before Osborne but was too expensive to be produced at a larger scale.
Since then, my generation popularly know as the Laptops was the craze. Our presence made our older generation Desktops to feel lesser. Not priced for the common man, we were the pride of the white collared humans. In the 90s and first decade of the millennium, the CEOs and CFOs of organizations flaunted our company. All my cousins occupied the plush board rooms and got to visit the greatest hotels acroos the globe while it was actually our older relatives called the servers sitting in a highly guarded prison like atmosphere called data centers who slogged through the night to provide the actual information needed for those meetings.

Little did I know that our limelight years are coming to an end when we were mass produced and started to replace some of our immediate previous generation, desktops. I was able to see the development of my next generation sitting in the same plush rooms where plans were hatched to replace my generation with my juniors in a very short time. Though they still are not reachable for a common man, my juniors known around as tabs are taking over our territory quickly. Sorry to see that unlike my generation which though went around the town still upheld our tradition and identity of having exclusive keyboards and not marrying anyone outside the family the new generations are unpredictable. I cannot easily now differentiate a member from the  family of telephones from one of my own kind. They marry and blend so much that a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) considered one of our kind is capable of calling anyone in the contact list thus behave like a phone. I even see them shedding the primary organ we had, keyboard. It is all built-in and blended as part of  the touch screen display. They are testing limits of interactions even using handwriting and voice recognition.

Hard to believe that the top offices already see us as embarrassment to hang around with. They prefer the younger, sleek and slimmer tabs to be their companions while we are left at a point where we are not capable of crunching heavy numbers like the servers who are still housed in the much respected data centers nor comfortable co-workers to stay at someone’s desk for 8 hours job like the desktops. We now serve as a back-up of our desktop relatives at work places and as their substitutes when people choose to work from home a few hours in a day.

With a heavy heart I must accept the truth behind Moore’s Law, a rule of thumb in the history of computing hardware whereby the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Such speed of growth in technology leads to such a speedy replacement of generations, we like it or not.

Wal-Mart daddies

You would’ve met them, especially if you had any opportunity in the past 20 yrs to attend a wedding in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi. ‘Wal-Mart daddy’ is the term I use for parents who have their grown-up kids settling overseas leaving behind their parents in India. No offence intended, I very well understand that in majority of the cases the parents choose not to settle abroad with their children ‘sighting’ reasons as ‘We will not be comfortable there’, ‘Nothing like OUR country’, ‘We will miss our relatives and participating in the good and bad events of the extended family’, etc.

Why the term ‘Wal-Mart daddies’?
First of the two main things that make me pity such parents is when they show up at functions/gatherings generally observed when they attend weddings wearing a T-shirt or a sneaker that would be a perfect misfit both to the occasion and their trousers, accessories, hairdo and jewels. Though a misfit, you could pitifully observe the pride they bear in their looks which announces ‘My son/daughter/brother/sister/nephew/niece got this for me from Dubai/London/Sydney/New York/Chicago/California/Boston…’, still why Wal-Mart? I guess by now you would’ve figured it out…generally such t-shirts would’ve been bought at apparel outlets during their best SALE season at a steal deal OR as a last last minute rush buy from the nearest departmental store at a throw away price…and who could beat the logistics experts Wal-Mart chain at it? Their tagline till 2007 used to be ‘Always low prices’ that got changed to ‘Save Money. Live better’.
Secondly, though being happy for their children to have settled well [an ambition that they would’ve spent all their working life to achieve] and doing very well overseas [a dream come true for the children] you could still notice how much the parents miss them while living away. The way they use the opportunity of such gatherings to get things done by the youngsters of the extended family/friends errands that could have been done through their own kids anytime IF they were around is a tell tale sign of their loneliness which none of them would come out to admit about but I am sure will have it lingering in their mind when they toss around in their 12th floor air-conditioned bed room alone and physically deteriorating as the inevitable aging catches-up.

Mercy petition

Recently the Tamil Nadu assembly passed an unanimous resolution asking the President to reconsider the clemency appeal submitted by three of the death sentenced Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan who were involved in the killing of former Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. The Chief Minister J.Jayalalitha stated that this is done to ‘respect the sentiments of the people of the state’.

  1. There is no fool proof way to measure the correct sentiments of the public
  2. We cannot hide from the fact that the members of the assembly or parliament are not anymore the true representatives of the aam janta.
  3. More importantly, judgments cannot be amended based on reported sentiments. This is equivalent to disobey the laws we have made to run the nation.
Omar’s tweet responding to the Tamil Nadu assembly resolution is interesting. A fair question that would arise in anybody’s mind. We do not want TN assembly to set precedence on this. In no time J&K could come with a resolution favoring Afzal Guru and Punjab favoring Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s and so on…
Once Supreme court sentences someone to death, ideally, there must not be anything above it. The provision for President to overrule it is meant for just the rarest of rare cases. These days, almost all death sentence go up to the President’s office.
From today, our nation will adopt the below on mercy petitions to the President:
  1. The mercy petition filed to the President’s office will bear an expiry date of 3 years from the date of receipt post which it defaults to the Supreme Court’s original decision
  2. There cannot be any debate or re-appeal by any government body or individual or institution once the president’s decision is announced
  3. Act of terrorism, proven planned homicide and genocide cannot appeal for mercy from the President

Human islands

About 20 years ago, there used to be a lady living somewhere in our neighbourhood who used to walk alone at a specific time every evening talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated and no one next to her…our neighbours said she had some mental disorder.

Fast forward 15 years from then, as I enter an elevator in a mall I see a good looking, well dressed man, alone, talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated gesturing with both his hands facing the wall…he’s called tech savvy, he was using his bluetooth hands free, mobile headset.

Sometimes I have literally felt like an alien when I see 19 out the 20 people around me in a bus busy with their gadgets and me being the only one switching my gaze from one to the other bemused. Going further with my observations, understandably, I see the level of comfort in staying in this state improve down the generations just as the natural progression we see with handling gizmos. The generation of the 90s late Gen-Y and early Gen-Zs who are the youngest to enter the workforce have almost transformed into a species of Homo Zappiens. They zap between identies online donning a new avatar for every profile online. In fact, even if you live in the same house with them, or in the same aisle at work the best possibility of grabbing their attention will be by leaving a ‘post’ or ‘invite’ online than attempting to strike a live conversation with them. Its so amazing to see the dexterity with which this generation could type a ‘long’ Short Message Service (SMS) text in their phones just by jabbing their thumbs into the little keypad involuntarily with their eyes busy on something else. My dad finds it so hard to avoid pressing 4 keys at a time with full concentration on the keypad and screen, his generation had a technological shock when telephones swiched from rotor dialling to push buttons. I lie in between, slow but comfortable with the keypad and all the menu options and not a frequent user of SMS or even the mobile phone.

It’s become a common scene in urban life today and to a good degree in rural set-ups too that when people are alone for even a short while flip out a gadget and get connected to someone elsewhere either engaging through a telephone call, SMS texting or through social networking web-sites, thanks to the never ending technological innovations. Though they enable us to multi-task and complete a lot of things while on the go I also notice that it is leading to people miss out the pleasure of having a conversation with a stranger, miss opportunities of being forced out of the comfort zone leading to what I call ‘lateral learning’ by mere sharing of experiences which could be one of the little things that’s helped our species evolve to where we are.

Something seems to be not right when people sharing a physical space fail to communicate with each other and individually go to their ‘Contact list’ for a conversation. Though the quality of living is improving over the years the quality of human communication seems to be detiriorating. If we decide to interact only with people who are part of our ‘(online) community’ or share the same ‘interests’ and who are introduced to us only by a common friend then we are missing something…and that something is definitely not available online.