It’s a rich man’s court: House panel | business | Hindustan Times
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It’s a rich man’s court: House panel

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice slams the judiciary for ignoring the rights of common citizens and suggests the Govt consider higher court fees for corporate disputes, reports Nagendar Sharma.

business Updated: Aug 07, 2008 22:13 IST
Nagendar Sharma

In the court of law, some appear to be more equal than others. That's what a parliamentary panel believes is the case in the India.

High profile corporate disputes are getting preference in courts at the cost of poor people, who cannot afford the highly paid lawyers in their fight for justice and have to suffer endless delays, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice has said in a report.

It has slammed the judiciary “for ignoring the rights of common citizens” and recommended the government consider higher court fees for corporate disputes.

“At least one percent of the total amount of multi-crore disputes that reach the Supreme Court should be fixed as court fees" said the report that will be tabled in Parliament soon. “Majority of the precious courts time is being consumed by cases of business rivalries.”

More than 48,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court alone and poor people who lacked the resources to pay famous lawyers for years are the worst victims of the prevailing system, the committee noted.

The increasing trend of frivolous public interest litigations filed by big industrial houses to settle scores with their rivals was responsible for rising number of pending cases, it said.“Why should the common man pay for cases involving money and other disputes between big industrial houses which incur a huge cost to the nation by taking a lot of precious time of courts?”

The appeals by parties unhappy with decisions of tribunals set-up through special enactments like TRAI, SEBI, Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, etc., have been on a steady rise, the report said

The committee has also recommended steps for out of court settlements of corporate disputes by having clear guidelines for arbitrations. It has asked the Law Ministry for a fresh arbitration policy with regulations for arbitrators, who should be decided by the Chief Justice of India and not chosen by the parties themselves.

Meanwhile, it said, “the Supreme Court should set an example by delivering quick justice to the common people. The notion that only rich and powerful can get relief from the highest court of the country needs to be dispelled at the earliest.”