Delay of criminal trial in India: Causes and solution

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

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The delay in criminal trials in India is a persistent problem that has long plagued the criminal justice system. A trial can take years to complete, leaving victims and accused individuals in legal limbo. This delay not only leads to a backlog of cases but also undermines the credibility of the justice system. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of the delay in criminal trials in India and possible solutions to address the issue, along with current data.

Causes of Delay in Criminal Trials

  1. Overburdened Judiciary: The primary reason for the delay in criminal trials is the backlog of cases in the Indian judiciary. As of August 2021, the pendency of cases in Indian courts was around 45 million, with over 31 million cases pending in subordinate courts.
  2. Lack of Judges: Another reason for the delay in criminal trials is the shortage of judges. As of August 2021, there were 22,898 judges in India, which is much lower than the sanctioned strength of 31,618 judges.
  3. Inadequate Infrastructure: The lack of infrastructure, such as courtrooms, staff, and technology, contributes to the delay in criminal trials. The Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed the inadequacies of the Indian judiciary in conducting virtual hearings, resulting in further delays.
  4. Ineffective Investigation: Inadequate and flawed investigations by law enforcement agencies can also lead to the delay in criminal trials. In some cases, the police fail to gather sufficient evidence, resulting in the cases being postponed or dismissed.

Solutions to Address Delay in Criminal Trials

  1. Fast Track Courts: Fast track courts can help to expedite the trial process, especially for cases of heinous crimes such as rape and murder.
  2. Increasing the number of Judges: The Indian government needs to increase the number of judges to the sanctioned strength to address the backlog of cases.
  3. Use of Technology: The use of technology, such as e-filing, virtual hearings, and video conferencing, can help to streamline the judicial process and reduce the delay in criminal trials.
  4. Improved Investigation: The police must be adequately trained and equipped to conduct effective investigations. This can help to ensure that cases proceed to trial without unnecessary delays.

Current Data on Delay in Criminal Trials

According to the National Judicial Data Grid, as of August 2021, the pendency of criminal cases in district and subordinate courts was over 25 million. Additionally, around 55% of these cases had been pending for over two years, highlighting the magnitude of the problem.

Conclusion

The delay in criminal trials in India has significant implications for both victims and accused individuals. The causes of the delay are multifaceted and require a coordinated effort by the Indian government, judiciary, and law enforcement agencies to address the issue. The solutions suggested, such as fast track courts, increasing the number of judges, use of technology, and improved investigation, are feasible and can help to expedite the trial process. It is crucial that the Indian government takes immediate steps to reduce the delay in criminal trials and ensure that justice is delivered in a timely manner.