Government must shore up issues with justice dispensation

Published: 00:00, Oct 05,2019


THE Anti-Commission Commission is reported not to have been able to attend to about 92–93 per cent of the corruption allegations that it receives because the offences that have been alleged do not fall under the jurisdiction of the commission, which is mandated to investigate illegal wealth accumulation, bribery and the misappropriation of government fund or asset and money laundering by government officials. Records show that the commission has received 63,046 allegations from across the country in the past 46 months but have taken cognisance of 4,408 allegations, which roughly account for 6.9 per cent of the whole. Records further show that the commission has received 15,497 allegations this year till September but have dealt with 1,199 allegations, which roughly account for 7.7 per cent of the whole. In 2018, the commission dealt with about 7.6 per cent of the allegations it received; in 2017, it dealt with 5.2 per cent of the allegations and in 2016, 7.7 per cent of the allegations. The commission has sent, as New Age reported on Friday, the remaining allegations to the ministries concerned for steps to settle the issues. Although it is not mandated to deal with about 92–93 per cent of the allegations, which fall outside the commission schedule, it extends, as the commission chair says, necessary support for the complainants.

But what remains striking in all this is that such a huge number of complaints of corruption filed with the commission suggest a lack of comfortability of the complainants with, if not a lack of their confidence in, the regular process of justice dispensation. There may be multiple reasons for any absence of comfortability of people with or any lack of confidence in the legal system. If any legal redress, even if it is available, is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it effectively means the same as having no redress at all. There has been a huge backlog of cases, pending with courts, waiting to be disposed of. As complainants seek speedy and inexpensive justice, they very often are unwilling to resort to the regular justice dispensation system, which betrays a relatively low public confidence in the justice system. While this perhaps remains the main issue that holds back people from resorting to the regular justice dispensation, people’s lack of exposure to the justice system may very well be a major reason for this. Procedural problems associated with the investigation involving police that could be attended to but have so far largely been left unattended could also be reasons for the unwillingness, if not lack of confidence, of people to move court.

The government must, under the circumstances, afford people a greater experience with the justice system so that they have increased confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the justice delivery system. But the government at the same time must also shore up issues that have created the backlog of cases and must make justice dispensation more effective. The government must also make the justice system more people-oriented.

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