CJI NV Ramana spoke at the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts
Time has come to move from ad-hoc committees to a more streamlined, accountable and organised structure by creating a National Judicial Infrastructure Authority for the standardisation and improvement of judicial infrastructure which currently needs urgent attention, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said today.
Speaking at the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts, CJI Ramana dispelled the apprehensions that the proposed body aims at usurping the powers of any government and shared that National Judicial Infrastructure Authority would have representation from all the stakeholders, including the representatives of the central and state governments.
“It must however be acknowledged that it is the judiciary which best understands its own needs and requirements. Hence, the present proposal aims to bring infrastructure development under the supervision of special purpose vehicles to be headed by respective chief justices, and involve the representatives of the central and state governments,” CJI Ramana said.
He expressed his concern over the state of judicial infrastructure, saying that the environment of some district courts is such that even women advocates feel apprehensive about entering, and emphasized that the “courts, being temples of justice, should be welcoming and carry the requisite dignity and aura.”
“I am of the firm belief that judicial infrastructure, both in terms of personnel and physical infrastructure, needs urgent attention…. There is a severe gap between the existing infrastructure and the projected justice needs of the people. The environment of some district courts is such, even lady advocates feel apprehensive about entering court rooms, let alone female clients,” the Chief Justice of India remarked.
In the joint conference of the Chief Ministers and the chief justices, which was held at the Vigyan Bhawan here and inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CJI flagged several key problems faced by the Indian judiciary such as pendency, vacancies, dwindling judge-population ratio and the lack of infrastructure in courts.
CJI Ramana expressed his unease on the governments being the “biggest litigants” by accounting for nearly 50 per of the cases before courts and said that while the judiciary is often blamed for the pendency, there is a huge workload on the judges.
He asserted that often litigation is triggered because of non-performance by various wings of the executive and the legislature not realising its full potential, which are “avoidable burdens on the judicial system”, and observed if the authorities discharge their duties properly, the citizens need not approach courts.
He stated that deliberate inaction by the governments in spite of judicial orders is not good for the health of democracy and results in contempt petitions which are a “new category of burden on the courts” and emphasised that abiding by the law and the constitution is key to good governance.
“I am aware that there are certain concerns with the judicial system also, with regard to timely delivery of justice and pendency. Pendency is often blamed on the judiciary… But a keen look at the websites of the courts will give you an idea about the huge workload on judges. The number of cases filed and disposed on each day is unimaginable,” he stated.
In his address, CJI Ramana identified a “few contributing factors for docket explosion” and shared that ambiguities in legislations and the “executive willingly transferring the burden of decision making” to the judiciary increase the judiciary’s burden.
“Although policy making is not our domain, but if a citizen comes to the court with a prayer to address his grievance, the courts cannot say no,” he said.
“It is beyond my understanding as to why intra-and inter-departmental disputes of the government or fights between PSUs and the government end up in courts. If service laws are applied fairly in matters of seniority, pension and so on, no employee will be compelled to go to courts. It is a well acknowledged fact that the governments are the biggest litigants accounting for nearly 50% of the cases,” CJI Ramana said.
He further lamented the lack of special prosecutors and standing counsels, court decisions not being implemented by governments for years together and the “rush” to implement executive decisions without seeking opinion of legal departments.
“The decisions of courts are not implemented by governments for years together. The resultant contempt petitions are a new category of burden on the courts, which is a direct result of the defiance by the governments. Deliberate inactions by the governments, despite judicial pronouncements, are not good for the health of democracy,” CJI Ramana said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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