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Indian courts take justice to the people

  • Story Highlights
  • Indian judges bus mobile courts to rural villages to ease backlog
  • Judges say the mobile courts make justice more convenient
  • India has an estimated 300 million unresolved court cases
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HARYANA, India (CNN) -- In a nation of more than a billion people and millions of unresolved court cases, how do you take care of the backlog?

Long distances over questionable roads stop many Indians from making it into courtrooms.

Solution: You take the courts to the people.

A bell rings. A bailiff yells out the name of the accused. It's another day in the mobile courtroom of Judge Sandeep Singh.

His courtroom is a desk plopped down in the middle of a dusty schoolyard in the northern Indian village of Haryana.

"It works like any other regular court," Singh said. "The only difference is that instead of people going to the court, the court comes to the village."

The mobile court is bused into rural areas to hear both criminal and civil complaints as part of an effort to dig the nation's court system out from under an enormous backlog of cases.

With an estimated 300 million unresolved cases languishing in Indian courts, one consultant believes, it could take more than 300 years to clear the docket at the current pace.

There's one main reason for the backlog: inconvenience. People often have to travel long distances over questionable roads, using slow modes of transportation.

"The witnesses -- definitely, they don't show up -- and even the parties -- they don't show up -- and they send their advocate," Singh said. "But here, people are closer by, so definitely it makes a difference."

With distance no longer a problem, more villagers and their attorneys are coming to hearings.

Compared to the traditional legal system, the mobile court claims to be both fast and efficient. Singh said he has been able to clear 1,100 cases in just six months time compared to 500 under the traditional court system. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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