India court backlog prompts psychological study on judges


India's court backlog is not looking so victorious. Here, however, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam flashes a victory sign after speaking with media outside the high court in Mumbai on February 21, 2011. Two Indian judges rejected the appeal of the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks against his conviction and death sentence. The judges at the Bombay High Court dismissed the appeal by Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab over his role in the attacks that killed 166 and injured more than 300 people.


Punit Paranjpe

India's court backlog has prompted the government to greenlight a five-year, $7 million study of how the seemingly insurmountable pileup of cases has affected the psychological state of the country's 14,000 judges, writes the Times of India.

As we say in India: Mad or what?

Actually, the idea is to discover whether backlog psychosis is actually causing the judges to be less productive, not whether they're suffering (like my divorce-case-plagued pal) from PTSD.

For example, do judges grant continuances and delays so they can swiftly “dispose” of cases for the day, even though that means that the case will linger on that much longer?

My guess is yes, considering all it takes to get a case held over for another trial date is the claim that your client, or lawyer, or witness, is ill. Or, of course, “My dog ate my case file.”

The massive backlog of court cases is the main reason that Indian courts take an eternity to reach a decision, and that, in turn, is why the country with such pretty laws has so many endemic problems.

Read more on GlobalPost: Indian Supreme Court orders trial for parents of murdered teen

Nevertheless, rather than proving what everybody knows, a better use of the $7 million might be to raise judges' salaries, recruit added personnel or just send everybody to Thailand for a week.