Book Extract : 2047 – India At 100 – The roadmap to beating USA & China By Dr Malay Chaudhuri , Dr Arindam Chaudhuri



Eradication of Corruption for Functional Democracy
Judicial, Prison, Electoral and Media Reforms

Our current PM, Shri Narendra Modi came on the plank of corruption removal. Unfortunately he could do nothing. Because most people don’t know how to remove corruption. Corruption can never be removed without transforming the judiciary. That’s the only direct link. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand its real relevance; and those who do, are sitting in power and thus keeping it dysfunctional so that the corrupt can make merry!

If we are really keen to change this country and make an impact in the field of reducing corruption, we have to awaken the sleeping and completely dysfunctional judiciary of this country!

Can you believe we allocate less than 1% of the Central and State budgets every year for the judiciary. The figure is so laughably small that I
marvel at how the judiciary functions at all!

All this, while new laws, amendments to existing laws, a massive increase in corruption and the rise of activism have led to more and more
cases piling up even as old cases continue to languish. I repeat, the only way to reduce corruption in India is to make the judiciary more effective. Till the corrupt remain convinced that they can either escape punishment or delay it indefinitely, corruption will continue to increase. The one and only solution for corruption is a functional judicial system. Corruption and greed are globally prevalent, yet it touches far less lives in the USA than in India simply because the American judicial system is functional and ours is dysfunctional. In America, they have ten times more judges per million people than in India. You may find people who have not accepted bribes, but you will rarely find someone who has not bribed a government employee to get some work done. The most common method of extracting a bribe is to delay the disposal of files with some excuse or the other. In the United States 0.2% of the people have encountered bribery, whereas in Mumbai 22.9% of the people have had such an experience.

From one of my father’s last articles I quote:
To clear all the backlogs of cases in India we would require more than 350 years at the current pace!! We have no policy to change the sorry state of Indian Judiciary which is totally dysfunctional and ineffective – our current PM must realise that his ‘Make in India’ plan can never succeed & his tryst with black money eradication can never be fulfilled – unless and until he makes the judiciary effective and functional – backed by proper implementing machinery in the form of sufficient and effective Police. According to data available with the apex court, the number of pending cases with the Supreme Court is 64,919.

The data available for the 24 High Courts and lower courts showed pendency of 44.5 lakhs and whopping 2.6 crores, respectively. Of the over 44 lakh cases pending in the 24 high courts of the country, 34,32,493 were civil and 10,23,739 criminal. The maximum pendency of civil and criminal cases together was in Allahabad High Court with 10,43,398 cases while the minimum was in Sikkim with 120 cases pending. The Delhi High Court had a total of 64,652 cases pending before it. As per the data, the Allahabad High Court had the maximum number of pending criminal cases – 3,47,967. Of the 2.6 crore cases pending in lower courts, Uttar Pradesh subordinate judiciary tops the chart with over 56 lakh cases pending, out of which 41,98,761 are criminal matters. Delhi district courts recorded a total of 5,22,167 pending cases, including 3,81,615 criminal cases. Just a peanut of our annual budget is required – 15,000 cr – to change the situation.

We have only 10% of the number of courts per million population required by international standard. We have 20% of the required Police
force in a state like West Bengal. Police is also known for corruption. During the British rule, there was the system of honorary magistrates, who could dispense with quick justice, even if miscarriage of justice could not be totally avoided. Can we bring back the old system in the interest of justice to be delivered to the majority of the population? This can be done almost immediately. Appointing more judges and creating more courts and increasing the number of Police personnel are the long term solutions. In the short run, we can appoint honorary magistrates from school teachers and college lecturers and from other respectable professionals, who are not yet fully corrupt. Once people doing real crime and corruption (including asking for bribes at a traffic light) start getting punished even if for only a week for smaller crimes or more depending upon the gravity of the offence, things will start changing! This will have tremendous impact. It will of course be necessary to erect jails in many more numbers. This is necessary in any case, since we have more criminals outside the jail gates than behind it as we wrote in our book The Great Indian Dream under the chapter heading of ‘Criminals Outside, Innocents Inside’. And while criminals run free in the country, two of every three persons incarcerated in India have not yet been convicted of any crime.

Excluding bribery and crimes like rigging in elections, the total recorded crime in the US today is 2,400 per 1,00,000 people, whereas in India it is 385. Had our crime investigation and judiciary been as efficient as that in the United States, the number of convictions would be around 7.5 lakh and not around 1,25,000 as is the case today, as per our research. This means that if we have around 1,25,000 convicted criminals in jails, we have about 6,00,000 criminals outside jail.

We have not taken into account crimes of bribery. Victims of bribery in India are 22.9% of the total population, whereas the figure is only 0.2% in the United States. In India very few have been put behind bars for accepting bribes. So if all the bribery cases are caught and followed up, the number of convicted prisoners in jails would exceed a few million. We have also not yet taken into account the criminals who rig elections. Though rigging is unheard of in many civilized democratic countries, it takes place on a massive scale in India.

We may say that if we have around 1,25,000 convicted prisoners in jail, we have a few million criminals outside the jail.

Armed with the finding that more than 75% inmates in Indian jails are innocent undertrails rather than actual violators of law, the condition
prevailing in our jails is even more shocking.

Muslims are over-represented among such undertrials, official data show. Despite repeated Supreme Court orders on the rights of undertrials, the jails are filling ever faster with them, shows Prisons Statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau. While the number of convicts grew by 1.4 per cent in a year, the number of undertrials shot up by 9.3 per cent during the period. Among the 2.8 lakh undertrials, over 3,000 have been behind bars for over five years. The country must budget for a monthly pension for the families of undertrials rotting in our jails with immediate effect…..

Two decades back in the Great Indian Dream we wrote under the sub heading of “The withering repressive state” that getting justice from
our judiciary is an incredible ordeal. The state thrives on it because a repressive state has no respect for democracy or justice. Such a judiciary helps the unjust to exercise complete control over the lives of vulnerable citizens. Hiding behind an ineffective judiciary, the state resorts to extra legal methods like encounter killings to maintain law and order. Once the state begins to use the law and order machinery for extra legal methods, drawing its sanction from the practicality of the situation, it is impossible to maintain the fine distinction between what is permissible and what is not. In this process innocent people are convicted. Sometimes they vanish into thin air as victims of custodial deaths. When bribery is not punished and it percolates through the entire system, it becomes second nature for people to resort to bribing for speedy completion of tasks in government circles, although they themselves may not be so morally deficient as to accept bribes.

( Extracted after permission from 2047 – India at 100 – The roadmap to beating USA & China By Dr Malay Chaudhuri, Dr Arindam Chaudhuri )

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