Glaring Example of Justice Denied

Many times, Litigation isselfdefeating. There have been many instances when litigants have wasted their lifetimes, evaporated all their resources in contesting the cases but ultimately got nothing. In a Hindi novel ‘Raag Darbari’, written by Sahitya Academy award winner Dr. Shri Lal Shukla, a former IAS officer, has very poignantly pictured the plight of a pathetic lame man who wasted his whole life in making rounds of the courts. From a teenager he became an old man and ultimately died, but did not get any relief from the temple of justice.

It has now become a trite to say that justice delayed is justice denied. There must be thousands of cases pending across the country for more than 50-60 years. There is one case in Allahabad High Court, which is pending for more than hundred years, and many generations of the litigators have passed away but till date the judgment has not seen the light. This speaks volumes about the state of affairs and the extremely slow process of justice in India. This is one aspect of justice.

In our country when people go to the court they get resigned to their fate and often say in jest and disdain that one can be sure of death but there is no surety about the justice. Litigation for many people is like a bad habit of intoxication. They will spend hundred times more than what they would get if ultimately the decision comes in their favour. The saying of ‘penny wise pound foolish’ is very apt and appropriate for such types of people. However, what can be said about the government and the agencies of the government when they go for long and protracted litigation to deny the justice to the opposite parties. This can be nothing else but the mental perversion and sickness of the persons who decide to carry on the litigation, which is of no use. Such litigations are kept alive at the huge cost on the exchequer. They, however, conveniently forget that money goes from the pool of the taxpayers. According to a data released by the Law Ministry more than sixty percent cases, which are pending before various High Courts and the Supreme Court belong to the Central Government or the State Governments. In all these pending cases, the Governments are either as a plaintiffs/ petitioners or as defendants/ respondents.

The number of such cases can be reduced to a negligible level provided the authorities responsible for taking actions perform their duties in appropriate and judicious manner. It is because of their non-application of mind and audacious behavior that the cases are initiated. What is worse is that they do not make any sincere efforts to resolve the cases in amicable manner.

Here is a startling case of a poor DTC bus conductor who was compelled to fight his case for more than four decades. And for what? it was the dishonesty of the bus conductor for the princely amount of 5 Naya Paisa. According to the story that has been published in the last week of July of this year in the Times of India that the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) fought the case against a bus conductor Ranvir Singh for more than four decades. The case started in the year 1973. The conductor was on duty in a bus going towards Mayapuri.. A flying squad of ticket checkers found him guilty for issuing a ticket to a woman for 10 paise, while she should have been given the ticket of 15 paise. They charged the bus conductor. He was suspended. A departmental inquiry was conducted and he was found guilty of causing loss of 5 paisa to the public exchequer and was dismissed from the service.

The bus conductor Ranvir Singh challenged the decision of the DTC before a Labour Court on the ground that he has been victimized because he was not allowed the opportunity to explain his innocence. The court ruled in his favour. The ruling came in 1990, which directed the DTC to reinstate the workman with full back wages. The Labour Court also said that the dismissal of employee was disproportionate to the alleged crime. The DTC was unrelenting and it challenged the decision of the Labour Court in the Delhi High Court, which dismissed the writ appeal in 2008 but by that time, the bus conductor had retired from his job. Therefore, he demanded the post retiral benefits with back wages. The blockheaded DTC officials decided to oppose the claim of the dismissed workman. However, the High Court again decided in favour of the workman.

Interestingly in a query made through RTI, the DTC has informed that it has spent Rs. 47,795/- on paying the fees to advocates towards the litigation expenses. In addition to it, it has paid Rs. 8, 96,293/- only towards back wages from July 1976 to September 2002 till the workman retired from his service.If the authorities had taken right decision at the right time worker would have been saved from harassment and the department from botheration, In addition to it,there would not been crowd of cases in the docket.

How bizarre is this case? And more than the case how sick and perverted has been the mentality of the authorities, who spent huge amount of money for the loss of mere pittance of 5 paise is reflected in this case. This is a classic example of monumental insensitivity of authority towards the department and the society, whose trust they are supposed to hold with good faith, sincerity and transparency. This is not loss of money but also the loss of the services of a person, which could have been utilized for the organisation. To top it all. it was a personal loss for the person, who fought the case for nearly 41 years and it will be very difficult to fathom the anguish, the mental trauma, the loss of prestige and economic hardships by the person who bro the brunt the heartless authorities. During this period, the dismissed workman might not have been able to educate his children and might not have been able to take care of his family. No body knows who came forward to help him in the marriage of his daughter, if any, or in the sickness of his family members.

Another most damaging and deleterious effect of such litigations is to compel the employee(s) to become dishonest. There can hardly be any doubt that the dismissed bus conductor must have worked somewhere clandestinely for his and his family’s survival which he could not have divulged to anybody for fear of being denied the back wages. This is an open secret that during the period of dismissal and pendency of the case workmen surreptitiously work somewhere for their livelihoods and the back wages that they get at the end of the litigations are the dividends and the windfalls for them. There is no doubt that this long drawn litigation could have been avoided with little bit of application of mind by eschewing the recalcitrant attitude of officials.

The judiciary also cannot escape the responsibility of creating social tensions by delaying the cases for decades together. The need of the hour is to devise ways and means for swift delivery of justice. And in this process the use of technology should be enhanced of the benefit of society. Be that as it may, the above narrated real story tells a lot about the system, whether it is department, executive or the judiciary and they all have to make concerted efforts to change the scenario as it exists today..