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By Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly

A court of law is a public forum; its main duty is to administer justice to those who knock at its door with various grievances.

It is often mistaken that a court of law or the justice delivery system is meant for the lawyers or for the judges. In reality, it is not meant for anyone of these categories of people. The justice delivery system in any country under a democratic setup exists only for the litigants.

Therefore when a judge does not sit in time in court or when a judge does not devote full attention to his work or when he delays delivery of his judgement beyond a reasonable period, he is virtually stifling a very important public mechanism meant for delivering justice and virtually the judge is thus defeating the very system which he must uphold.

Considering the huge pendency of cases in our country, wastage of precious judge-time is virtually a crime. However, this is done mostly by lawyers and sometimes by judges.

Continuous prayers for adjournments by lawyers and which is generously granted by judges, create bottlenecks in the administration of justice and to the system itself.

Apart from this, the lawyers, on the drop of a hat, take resolution for closing courts in view of death of one their colleagues. Sometimes, there is a puerile prayer from lawyers to close down courts in view of the summer heat and ironically, they do so, after having enjoyed a summer vacation for about two weeks.

When such a prayer is made, the lawyer fraternity forgets that every other offices and institutions are functioning. This is a new and a disturbing trend which puts the lawyers in a bad light.

Practices such as these completely shut down the courts and cause huge disruption. They are very rampant in the Calcutta High Court and the honourable Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court is trying in vain to curb this practice.

Unfortunately, the request by the honourable Chief Justice is honoured more in its breach than by observance!  This is a very sad commentary on the work ethics of the Calcutta Bar of which I was a member.

Apart from that there is a tendency among lawyers to indulge in prolix arguments to drag the hearing of a case. It should be controlled, and the system of written arguments must be strictly enforced.

We must realise that law courts are no longer reserved for the rich who can afford the luxury of litigating for a long time. They must emerge under our democratic Constitution as a place for the common men who are driven to courts in view of an unjust society in which they have to survive and for lack of justice both at the level of the administration and also before the police.

A court therefore, for the common men, is the only place that they look up to with hope and for justice. If that redress mechanism is paralysed and access to the same is impeded, it causes immense loss to the common men without much affecting the rich who can afford to wait and in many cases, for them, prolonging the litigation is beneficiary.

(Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly is a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and a former Chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission known for issuing important orders indicting the Mamata Banerjee government. He lives in Kolkata.)

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