Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday said that the biggest issue affecting all institutions nowadays, including the judiciary, is ensuring sustained faith in the eyes of the public, adding that in this era of instant noodles, people expect instant justice but they do not realize that real justice will be a casualty if we strive for instant justice.
Speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony at Madras High Court, Chennai, CJI Ramana said that dispensing justice is not only a constitutional duty but also a social one.
The CJI said that judges should be aware of social realities and they have to carefully watch the changing social needs and expectations.
“Judges should be aware of social realities. We have to carefully watch the changing social needs and expectations. The world is moving very fast. We are witnessing this change in every sphere of life. From the 5-day test match, we have moved on to the 20-20 format. We prefer short duration entertainment over a 3-hour long movie. From filter coffee, we have moved on to instant coffee. In this era of instant noodles, people expect instant justice. But they do not realize that real justice will be a casualty if we strive for instant justice,” he said.
The CJI further said that he has highlighted issues affecting the legal system during his tenure at the office.
“During the last one year of my tenure as CJI, I have been highlighting various issues affecting our legal system in India. The biggest issue affecting all institutions nowadays, including the judiciary, is ensuring sustained faith in the eyes of the public,” CJI Ramana said.
The Chief Justice stressed on the duty of the judiciary to uphold and enforce Constitutional values.
“The judiciary is vested with the immense Constitutional responsibility of maintaining the Rule of Law and checking executive and legislative excesses. We have the duty of upholding and enforcing Constitutional values. It is no doubt, a heavy burden. But it is one that we have gladly chosen on the day we took our Constitutional oath. This is the reason why strengthening judicial institutions has been my top priority. Strengthening the judiciary is imperative for a democracy, sustained on the rule of law,” he said.
The CJI termed the dispensation of justice “not only a Constitutional duty”, but also a “social” one.
“Dispensing justice is not only a Constitutional duty but also a social one. Conflicts are inevitable for any society. But the constructive resolution of conflict is integral to maintain the social order,” CJI further said.
“Constructive conflict resolution is not a mere technical job, he said, adding particularly in a country like India, judges cannot blindly apply the rules, procedures and statutes. “After all, conflicts have a human face. We are constantly aware of our duty to render justice, not merely procedural, but also substantial,” he added.
CJI Ramana laid out the parameters that the judges have to look into before giving a verdict as the judiciary is like an “engine of social integration”.
“Before rendering any decision, the judges have to weigh several socio-economic factors and the impact of their decision on the society. I firmly believe that the judiciary should never be viewed as a mere enforcer of the law. It is an engine of social integration. Judging is not an easy task,” he said.
Suggesting judges to broaden their’s horizons, he asserted,”We judges have to sharpen our ideas and perceptions, we need to expand our knowledge base and adopt technology as an enabler, he said. CJI further said that there cannot be a gap between the mind of a judge and the needs of society. “Ultimately, we are entrusted with the duty to deliver justice for all,” he said.
Speaking about the people in general, the CJI said that they look up to the judiciary in times of distress and lay their faith in it to protect their rights.
“The people of this country look up to the judiciary in times of distress. They firmly believe that their rights will be protected by the courts. It is necessary to contemplate how to improve the functioning of the judiciary, and how to reach out to the people and fulfil their justice needs. This is precisely why I have been a strong proponent of the “Indianization of the Justice Delivery System”. By Indianisation, I mean moulding the Indian Judicial System for the benefit of the Indian populace,” he said.
“It is a multidimensional concept. It calls for inclusivity, providing access to people to participate in the proceedings, removal of the language barrier, reforms in practice and procedure, development of infrastructure, filling up of vacancies, augmenting the strength of the judiciary and so on. Infrastructural development forms one of the core ideas. With the expanding economy and growth in population, the number of litigations is rising alarmingly. But there is a severe gap between the existing infrastructure and the projected justice needs of the people,” he added.
Moreover, the existing infrastructure is far from being inclusive for all, he said, adding that ever since he has assumed the office, strengthening judicial infrastructure: both in terms of manpower and physical infrastructure, has been at the top of his priorities.
Court functioning is greatly inhibited due to a lack of infrastructure- both physical and personnel. While certain states including Tamil Nadu have been actively working to augment their judicial infrastructure, several other states are in dire need of immediate attention, he said.
“That is the reason why I am championing the Judicial Infrastructure Authorities – both at national and state levels – which will implement the National Court Development Project. I have already sent a comprehensive proposal in this regard to the Government of India,” CJI said.
He said that filling up of judicial vacancies, as well as increasing the sanctioned strength of judges is imperative to reduce the caseload per judge and to improve the judge to population ratio, he added.
“As of today, out of 1,104 sanctioned posts of High Court Judges, there are 388 vacancies. From day one, it has been my endeavour to fill judicial vacancies. In fact, my very first communication to the Chief Justices of the High Court was to request them to expedite the process of recommending names for elevation. Due to collective efforts at all levels, we could make considerable progress in the filling up of the judicial vacancies,” he said.
Addressing the issue of language used in the courts, the CJI said that there should be efforts to make the general population an “active part of justice delivery process”.
“Another issue I want to discuss is that of the language used in the courts. The common citizen of this country cannot relate to the practices, procedures and language of our Courts. Our efforts should be concentrated on making the general population an active part of the justice delivery process,” he said.
To improve the functioning of the judiciary and reach out to the people to fulfill their judicial needs, the CJI said that the Indian justice delivery system should be Indianised for the benefit of the country’s population.
“The parties must understand the ongoing process and development of their case. It should not be like chanting mantras in a wedding, which most of us do not understand,” the CJI added.
CJI Ramana also talked about the barriers preventing the local languages from being adopted before the High Courts and expressed hope that with innovation in science and technology, and advancements such as artificial intelligence, some of the issues associated with the introduction of local languages in High Courts may be solved in the near future.
“I have been a strong proponent of higher representation of women at all levels of the legal profession. Speaking of women particularly, we need women from all classes and all sections to find a place within the judicial system,” he said.
“Inclusivity does not stop with the only representation of women. The social and geographical diversity of the nation must find reflection at all levels of the judiciary. With the widest possible representation, people get to feel that it is their own judiciary,” the CJI added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)