“Peace without justice is tyranny!”
It is a truth widely accepted in India that if one gets embroiled into a legal situation, it would take one decades to come out of it. This was one of the worst fears of my uncle, when he had decided to file a lawsuit against tenants who were unlawfully squatting on his property without paying the rent. However, his apprehensions soon turned into bitter reality when the case dragged on for several years, making him old and impatient, and somewhat resigned. Meanwhile, his son, who was a non-resident Indian settled in the USA, didn’t let go of a single chance to complain that a case like this would’ve been easily sorted in the USA. His vehement claims made me delve into research, and I ended up with several reasons why the US legal system ensures easier justice than its Indian counterpart.
FEES OF LAWYERS:
In the United States, there exists a system of “contingent fee”, which is any fee for services provided where the fee is payable only if there is a favourable result. Thus, in this system, a fee charged for a lawyer’s services is paid only if the lawsuit is successful or is favourably settled out of court. Contingent fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery. Therefore, if a client does not win the case, he need not pay the lawyer. This encourages many people to seek legal redressal, even when they do not have the financial situation to afford a lawyer.
On the other hand, in India, the best lawyers who are likely to be the most expensive in the world are typically paid between Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 15 lakhs per hearing. Interviews by “Legally India” with more than more than 32 Delhi law firm partners and advocates working with business clients have revealed that the top bracket in terms of pay is dominated by advocates who are or were also politicians. Such high fees of lawyers often make it impossible for common men to seek the help of the judicial system.
CLASS ACTION LITIGATION:
In a typical class action lawsuit, a plaintiff sues a defendant or a number of defendants on behalf of a group or class. Class actions are most common where the allegations involve a large number of people who have been injured by the same defendant in the same way. Instead of each injured person’s bringing his or her own lawsuit, the class action allows all the claims of all class members to be resolved in a single proceeding. This is very effective when a number of people from a middle or lower class background need to fight a case against corporate giants.
According to the legal experts, class action law suits are not very successful in India. Industry fears government has not fully understood how class-action suits work and has provided the provision under pressure from investor protection groups. The provision can be of nuisance for companies if a small group of investors sues for flimsy reasons. Conversely, in genuine cases, not enough shareholders or creditors may come together to sue the company. It is very much needed to promulgate this concept at grassroots level and bring about required awareness among all stakeholders. Further, to ensure that benefits of the medium of class action are received by small shareholders, the Tribunal must pass effective and timely decisions.
TRIAL BY JURY:
A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a legal proceeding in which a jury makes a decision or findings of fact, which then direct the actions of a judge. It is distinguished from a bench trial in which a judge or panel of judges makes all decisions.
Jury trials are used in a significant share of serious criminal cases in almost all common law legal systems; the US makes routine use of jury trials in a wide variety of non-criminal cases. In the United States, every person accused of a crime punishable by a sentence for more than six months has a right to a trial by jury.
In the US, it is understood that juries usually weigh the evidence and testimony to determine questions of fact, while judges usually rule on questions of law. When the jury determines of questions of law, it cannot be overturned by a judge. Although a judge can throw out a guilty verdict if it was not supported by the evidence, a jurist has no authority to override a verdict that favors a defendant. A judge cannot order the jury to convict, no matter how strong the evidence is. In civil cases a special verdict can be given, but in criminal cases a general verdict is rendered.
Conversely, the system of trial by jury has been abolished, when it has come to light that the consensus of the jury is often biased.
The jury consists of people who mostly are not related to the legal system. As a result, they are often influenced from popular notions and media hype, which could completely deter a fair trial. The jury judges a case based on societal norms, morality and ethics. It is almost always the case that the accused is presumed guilty. Although many argue that the jury system ensures societal participation in the judicial system, but in a country like India, where media does not report on issues with objectivity, trial by jury is an impossibility.
It is clearly evident that the judiciary in the USA enjoys more success than the judiciary in India. However, it must be remembered that the courts of the USA handle about 10-20 cases per day, while the Indian courts have to handle some odd 400 cases per day. Therefore, it might be said that the Indian justice system has made the best out of its circumstances.
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