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More than 10,000 new cases are piling up annually for the existing mountain of court cases
Today everyone accepts that there are piles of cases similar to mountains in our judicial system. In a report released by the Ministry of Justice recently it was stated as of 30 September 2017 there were 620,297 cases to be solved in our judiciary system. Further it says 610,358 out of this list were continuations from 2016. 341,775 cases have been filed from January to September in 2017 and 331,836 out of them were resolved. This shows that nearly 10,000 cases per year are piled up without being solved.

The Ministry of Justice report is based on data gathered from 72 District Courts out of the 82 and 80 Magistrate Courts out of the 100 from January to September in 2017. This means data of 20 Magistrate courts and 10 District courts is not included in this report. If these data too were available the number of piling cases should have been much more for sure.

From the District courts, the lowest in the judicial system, to Supreme court which is the highest in the system, receives a number of caes which cannot be entertained in a day. A district court gets nearly 250 cases per day. The court hearing is limited for 5 hours (only a very few courts continue for five hours) the time which can be devoted per case is limited for less than one and a half minutes. Thus 98% of the cases are postponed and only 2-3 cases are taken per day. This is the practice of the courts from along time now.

Since this is the practice of the courts the law abiding citizens have lost faith in the judicial system. Also a number of citizens are afraid of the judicial system. Thus even when they face injustice they try to bear up the loss or accept they are guilty and try to escape the judiciary. The general public is suspicious whether they will get justice through this judicial system.

Thus due to the delay in the judicial system if one estimate the loss of resources and money for the government as well as individuals, it is similar to another project as the Mahaweli and a few ports like the Colombo port can be built with that amount of money.

The break down in this judicial system has also resulted in delays in development projects and thus have been a cause for the turn back of new investments. This shows the delay in judicial system has resulted
in the delay in the country’s development as well.

This delay has directly resulted in the increase of crimes. According to a report published by Mr Buwaneka Aluwihare a Supreme Court judge, it takes about 15 years for the solving of a court case. According to a report compiled by the Asian Human Rights Commission only 4% of the crime cases filed by the Attorney General are proceeding. Which means 96% of the crime cases filed by the AG are failed and the perpetrators are freed.

The main reason for the failure of crime cases filed is related to problems regarding witnesses. When the process takes long the courage of the witness is decreasing and they opt out of it. Also since the threats of the perpetrators they are taking a back foot. Or else they take money from the perpetrator and does not show up in the courts. Some witnesses are changing their statement which contradicts with the statement they have given to the police. Some are leaving the country with the help of the perpetrator. There are also instances where the perpetrators have left the country. The ultimate resultis due to the lack of evidence the perpetrators are freed.

This situation is devastating the country. The increase of crime is one such result. The delay in justice paves the way for these perpetrators to engage in more and more crimes. Today Sri Lanka has become a paradise for crimes. It is also becoming the Asian hub for crimes now.

A number of steps can be taken to stop the delay in judicial system. It seems that the government is also paying attention to this issue now. They have already taken some steps. An important step was the passing of the bill for establishing a special three person supreme court. This court will hear cases related to bribery and corruption, punishments which comes under the bribery act, misusage of public property, providing money for terrorists, cyber- crimes and bank and foreign exchange act. Permanent judges will be appointed and they will hear court cases every day.

The Minister of Justice has stated this judiciary will be established before the 15 th of July. According to the act three such courts can be established. Our suggestion is to establish more courts and take measures to stop delay in these court cases. Also a system like this should be established in other courts as well. We should pressurize the government to establish a system to speed up the fundamental rights and crime cases. This is a duty of all law abiding citizens.

Philip Disanayake


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