Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
“Justice delayed is justice denied” Delayed justice is no justice. This is a famous legal maxim means that if justice is not delivered timely then it will serve no purpose at all. One can equate it with reality that beyond a particular limit everything seems to unreasonable and completely futile. Let say if a man in the society is defrauding every person by making fool out of them, by misappropriating their monies which everybody gave him for the development of their area. If that person fled away with all the money he had, in that case, one should take prompt action against him before he could leave the boundary of the area. One may think of the consequences that what can happen if their monies is not restored to them on time. It is pertinent to mention here that if this money is returned to them after 3 years one can imagine the agony of people who waited for 3 long years to get their hardened money back. One can also take note of the fact that what if the same man does the same thing in any other locality where people dint knew about his antecedents! This is just an illustration of a wrongful act, a Misdemeanor. One can very well imagine that what can happen in case of a Felony!
Lets’ try to consider the impact on society of delayed Justice by considering a few of the landmark cases in our Indian History.
Uphaar Tragedy(1997) Where the negligent Ansal brothers got the punishment after 20 long years. Just think about the plight of the families who lost their loved ones in the Cinema Fire! Bhopal tragedy(1985) the dangerous business activity by respondents dominated upon huge loss of life and property apart from the loss to the environment. The apex court levied a huge Compensatory relief to Victims’ family, which was not paid till 2011. Nirbhaya Hatyakand(2012) the most dreadful, sinful and barbarous crime not against the women alone rather against the very humanity, reached its fate in 2020. One cannot even imagine the pain which victim and her family suffered in these 8 long years. All the 4 accused have tried their best to commute their capital punishment rather they employed delatory tactics by playing with constitutional and legal rights available to accused.
One may consider the following Delay tactics used by various stakeholders:
Insufficient and unreasonable excuses
Unreasonable use of constitutional/ statutory rights
Using Exceptions as loopholes.
Delay to be condoned in exceptional circumstances. It should not be the rule rather an exception. Imagine the far-reaching consequences of delays in justice delivery system!
Tampering and fabrication of evidence
Fading of human memory
Evidentiary Value of testimonies leading to contradictions
Society at risk against heinous or serious offences
Mental suffering, torture for the victim as well as other stakeholders
These rights are given to serve the purpose of justice but ultimately these are doing more harm than good. Accused who has done wrong is playing with the system in the guise of remedies. Most Recent Example is Nirbhaya Case where all the accused one by one take help of appeal, mercy petition, review petition and then curative petition just to delay the proceedings. The infamous Babri Maszid Case which is still under Review in SC got finally decided after 70 long years. Imagine the plight of prisoners who are behind bars in some petty offences. Most of them already suffered more than the maximum punishment prescribed because of lack of knowledge or finances or infrastructure. Although Free Legal aid is available to them but still due to inherent irregularities and corruption that adds to their sufferings. The most basic human right i.e. right to life is denied to them due to insufficiencies in our system. One may say that system is insufficient and not the laws. Our Justice System provides numerous remedies to the person whosoever is feeling aggrieved or not satisfied. Likewise,
Criminal system: In the way of Appeals from conviction as well as acquittal, also from capital sentences, from insufficient sentencing, reference and revision (Chapter- 29 & 30 CrPC.)
Civil system: Appeal, Reference, Review and Revision, Second Appeal
Constitutional framework : Pardoning power of President (A-72) Governor (Art 161) SC Jurisdiction under SLP(A-136) , Review Jurisdiction(A-137) , High court Jurisdiction(A-226 & 227)
Pardoning power ( in addition to ) in CrPC. to Appropriate Government ( SEE Chapter 32, CrPC)
What insufficient is the justice delivery system and a lot of leniency and liberty in law. Jeremy Benthem, Father of Analytical Jurisprudence propounded “ GREATEST HAPPINESS OF GREATEST NUMBER” above mentioned incidents clearly shows that it’s not the greatest happiness rather greatest sorrow of greatest number. There’s a famous quote “ There should be a limit for everything, everything unlimited is bad, in law as well as in fact. In the same way so much leniency and liberty given to culprit and immense load on the victim to prove his case is bad, ultimately the sufferer is suffering from beginning till the end and the one who is at fault is enjoying and taking everything for granted. Innocence must be protected at any cost and nobody should be allowed to aggravate his sufferings, not even our “so-called” system and its “procedure! It is the need of the hour to look at the root cause and find tangible solutions to remedy the lacunae otherwise the situation would be threatening for the whole nation.
Advocate Neha Gupta Kaushik
I have done my LLB from Law Centre-II, Faculty of Law, Delhi University & currently pursuing LLM from Kurukshetra University.