A day after Chief Justice of India TS Thakur was reduced to tears over the state of the justice system, Law Minister Sadananda Gowda took to Twitter to congratulate himself. The department of justice, he said, had just received the quality management system process ISO 9001 certificate – #TransformingIndia.
This was followed by a more introspective tweet:
For the uninitiated, the International Organisation for Standardisation is a federation of national standards bodies. It sets “world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency”. The ISO 9000 family is a series of standards that address various aspects of quality management and applies to both manufacturing and service industries. Key quality management principles include “customer focus”, “engagement with people”, “evidence-based decisionmaking”, “leadership”. The department of justice has apparently met all the necessary requirements, never mind naysayers like Thakur.
Addressing the prime minister, the law minister and an array of dignitaries on Sunday, Thakur had outlined the bleak picture of a thinly staffed judiciary, a staggering backlog of cases and vast swathes of people with no access to justice.
In 1987, he said, the Law Commission had recommended the appointment of 40,000 more judges so that there would be 50 judges for every 10 lakh people instead of 10. While the population had increased by 25 crore since then, the government had been slow to process appointments, with the Centre and the states constantly at loggerheads.
According to the department of justice’s own estimates, there were 26,851,766 cases pending in the subordinate courts as of March 2015. The backlog across all courts is believed to be more than three crore.The CJI had ended his speech by saying, “If nothing has worked till now, I hope my emotional appeal will”. It clearly has. Within 24 hours, we have a state-of-the-art, ISO certified department of justice, meeting needs, reaching people.