Mumbai: What happens when a court does not have a judge
Moving tales of those left in limbo just because one court in Borivli has not had a magistrate for two months
Litigants at Borivli Metropolitan Magistrate Court No. 67 are living through the adage justice delayed is justice denied. The absence of a magistrate for two months has created a backlog of 8,500 cases, with several people languishing in jail because there is no one to grant them bail.
In judicial custody cases, the accused has to remain in jail for lack of bail," said advocate Subodh Pathak. "When guilt is not yet proven, keeping people in jail for such procedural lapses is nothing but pre-trial punishment. If the court is vacant, custody cases and those where urgent relief is required and should be heard on short intervals are the ones that suffer most."
Overloaded with cases
Court No. 68 has been given charge of the said court but it is already overloaded with cases from Aarey, Kasturba, MHB and Bangur Nagar police stations. But the additional burden has delayed the other court's matters too. Senior Advocate Kishore Joshi said there are several others who are without employment as they have been unable to receive custody of their properties like autorickshaws and taxis that were stolen and later recovered.
"These vehicles are their daily source of income," said Joshi. "The 67th court has jurisdiction over Goregaon, Dindoshi and Kurar police stations. These stations each file 125 cases on any single day. For over two months, there is no presiding officer and all the cases are adjourned without any progress."
Some advocates wrote to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and Guardian Judge three days after the 67th Court judge got promoted and transferred, requesting them to send temporary presiding officers from Mazgaon, Girgaon and Esplanade Court to clear the backlog but there has been no response.
Advocate Rajeshrao More, President, Borivali Advocates Bar Association, said they met the chief metropolitan magistrate earlier in the week to explain their woes.
"If a magistrate is brought on deputation, several people will benefit," said Joshi. "There are many senior citizens who visit the court to record their statements but are turned away. There are also cases of domestic violence where victims are awaiting for their monthly maintenance."
Those whose lives are on a pause
Jiyalal Pal, 32
Case: Recovery of stolen auto
'I am unable to pay my EMIs'
After my auto was stolen from Goregaon in April, the Amboli police caught the thief and recovered the vehicle. I applied for the return of property in 67th court, but every time the hearing gets adjourned. Since May, I have appeared five to six times, but I have just got tareek pe tareek. It has affected by daily bread and butter. I bought the rickshaw on a loan of Rs 45,000. Now, because I cannot ply my auto, I have been unable to pay the EMIs and the bank has served me notice for outstanding payments. I have started plying someone else's auto to provide for my family of five. The situation is getting worst with every passing day.
Rajkumar Yadav, 50
'There is no evidence against me'
I am auto driver from Pimpri Pada in Malad East and was arrested in 2003 on rape charges. Out on bail, I live with my wife and five children, the youngest of whom is 15 years old.
I was falsely booked on the complaint of one of my neighbours, who was running a chit fund (Bissi) and refused to return my money. When I complained, he complained to the police, accusing me of abusing a minor boy. I was in jail for nine days till word reached my family. They came from the village and got me out on bail. In the early days, hearings were few and far between. Only recently, my case got fast-tracked and trial started. There is no evidence against me and my statement was to be recorded, but suddenly the judge left and I have come here nine times since. Every time my dates get adjourn."
Rajesh Dhokare, 49
Case: Molestation and assault
'I want to clear my name'
I am a mandap decorator and was arrested in 2012 by Goregaon police along with my 75-year-old mother on charges of molestation and assault. I was accused of sexual harassment by the wife of the secretary of my housing society at Molitalal Nagar in Goregaon.
For every date, I come here with my mother. All the witnesses are in our favour, the court has recorded the statement of my mother and was going to record my statement. But for the last three hearings, we are being given new dates.
It is of utmost importance for me to clear my name from this case as it is hampering my business. Besides, the court hearings are also taking a toll on what little work I am left with. Survival has become tough for me.
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