Modi: Our justice delivery system caught up in morass of archaic laws
Noting that judiciary should attain perfection as it grows more powerful, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the need for judges to evolve an in-built mechanism of self-correction to prevent rot from within.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the Chief Justices and Chief Ministers Conference in Delhi on Sunday, Mr. Modi said the common man’s expectation from the judiciary is huge.
Even the slightest wound to judiciary in the form of corruption would endanger the image of the entire nation, Mr. Modi said.
Mr. Modi said judiciary, as an institution, enjoys so much credibility that even a man punished thinks it is impossible that the judiciary could go wrong.
He said the political classes are under scrutiny through multiple means like the Election Commission, the Right to Information Act and now the Lokpal even as the judiciary is not, owing to the public confidence and credibility it enjoys.
However, this credibility is all the more the reason for judiciary to take the initiative to independently devise an “inherent method” of checks and transparency, he said.
“If the government commits a fault, we have you to correct us. So you cannot afford to be seen in the wrong,” Mr. Modi said.
Earlier, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, in his speech, described the relationship between the judiciary and executive as that of siblings who hold each others’ hands and correct one another when needed. The CJI said the judiciary is open to “suggestions, change and dialogue” to evolve administration of justice.
As the CJI emphasised on government co-operation to improve court infrastructure, the Prime Minister expressed his unhappiness with the large number of tribunals in existence and the way they are eating into financial resources.
“Is there a need for so many tribunals? I want all seniors in the Supreme Court to contemplate if tribunals are actually helping in improving functioning of judiciary as a lot of budget goes waste in tribunals,” Mr. Modi pointed out.
The Prime Minister’s words came immediately after CJI Dattu, in his speech, sought autonomy to judiciary to “re-appropriate finances allocated to it” by the government.
The Chief Justice said that judges should be consulted for inputs before budgetary allocations are made to the judiciary.
The Prime Minister agreed with Chief Justice Dattu that judiciary cannot solve pendency alone and a co-ordinated effort is required.
Mr. Modi said pendency has been a constant refrain in joint conferences held in the past. He reminisced being a witness to threadbare discussions held in the earlier conferences. He pointed out that no solution has been arrived at so far. Instead, he drew attention to how poorly drafted laws and a morass of unnecessary and archaic laws have held up court proceedings, adding to pendency.
“Courts take years to interpret these poorly drafted laws. This is a reason for pendency. Again, our justice delivery system is caught up in a morass of unnecessary laws,” the Prime Minister said.
While Prime Minister Modi highlighted the need to sustain quality in the judiciary, Chief Justice Dattu pointed out that the best minds are hardly attracted to the judiciary. The CJI pointed out that the judge population ratio has dipped to 1:61,865.
“The stark reality is that the salary of a judge is somewhat that of a fresh graduate working in a law firm. I fear for the future,” the CJI said.
Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda agreed the judicial system is under strain.