Tag Archive | HR Bhardwaj

People Need ‘Incorruptible’ Justice, Prez Tells Judges – By Mukesh Jhangiani

 

English: Balanced scale of Justice

Balanced scale of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

                                                                                               February 23, 2008

People Need ‘Incorruptible’ Justice, Prez Tells Judges*

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – President Pratibha Patil today called for an easily accessible judicial machinery which dispenses ”affordable and incorruptible justice” to the people.

”We need to have in place a judicial machinery which is easily accessible and dispenses affordable and incorruptible justice to the people,” she said inaugurating a conference on Judicial Reforms.

Noting that India’s judicial administration is not without ”blemishes,” Mrs Patil stressed the need to ”introspect whether our judicial machinery has lived up to” expectations.

The event presided over by India’s Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan was addressed among others by Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj and Bar Council of India chairman Gopakumaran Nair.

President Patil warned against letting the common man ”take law into his own hand,” stressing that ”the formal adjudicatory machinery has to reign supreme.”

She said, ”We cannot allow a situation where the common man is tempted to take law into his own hand and subscribe to the deviant culture of the lynch mob.”

The two-day conference organised by a Confederation of Indian Bar to discuss the ”disquieting” delay in delivery of justice has more than half of Supreme Court judges listed among speakers.

The meet is being held at a time when the judicial system has been a focus of much public debate and comment, arising from such concerns as court delays, case arrears, shortage of judges, unending judicial vacancies and opacity, especially in the area of judicial hiring and accountability.

Alluding presumably to numerous conferences and seminars on reforming the justice system that appear to get nowhere, President Patil remarked: ”We talk incessantly about delays.”

”But now the time has arrived to launch a crusade against the scourge of arrears. Both the Bar and the Bench as equal partners in the administration of justice must address themselves to this problem.”

”Admittedly,” the President went on, ”the realm of judicial administration is not without its own share of inadequacies and blemishes.

”Time has come when we need to seriously introspect whether our judicial machinery has lived up to its expectations of walking the enlightened way by securing complete justice to all and standing out as the beacon of truth, faith and hope.”

Touching on a key issue, Mrs Patil said, ”case disposals are excruciatingly time consuming. This agonising delay has rendered the common man’s knock on the doors of justice a frustrating experience.

The issue of delay in courts has been debated for decades, without much avail. Experts believe lawmakers must take an initiative to sharpen laws and make them truly deterrent.

Mrs Patil called for making legal procedures ”simple, streamlined, rational, easily understandable and commonsensical.”

She reminded members of her erstwhile tribe that lawyers were trustees of justice and ”must set high standards of probity and rectitude.”

On another key area, she said citizens’ access to law ”remains limited due to prohibitive costs of quality legal advice. It is commonplace to hear that law has become the luxury of the rich.

”Legal aid can go a long way in helping the indigents secure justice,” she said adding that the present system ”needs to be improved.”

She reminded that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms need to be encouraged, but ”cannot aspire to substitute the formal courts.”

She said she recently came across the Karnataka High Court’s Bangalore Mediation Centre where 86 mediators had settled more than 1,000 cases in a year, taking an average 131 minutes per case– which ”is worthy of emulation.”

Justice Balakrishnan concurred that Judicial Reforms was a subject ”so much of talked about but too little done.”

Balakrishnan said India had a nationwide network of more than 14,000 courts– about 12,500 judge working strength– dealing with 40 million cases.

He said each judge handled on an average nearly 4,000 cases, which ”is too high as compared to the average load per-Judge in other countries.”

He acknowledged that ”the general impression of the people is that a large number of cases are being delayed and, if any case is filed, it would take years to get a relief.

”This impression about the performance of Indian Judiciary is not fully correct,” Justice Balakrishnan asserted, but went on to acknowledge that some 60 per cent cases were more than a year old.

He said 90 per cent of delayed cases were pending in subordinate courts.

He suggested setting up a national planning and management system for administration of justice and added that the Bhopal-based National Judicial Academy was preparing a case management system to avoid delays.

He also suggested:

— Legislative reform to remove the bottlenecks that adversely affect adjudication;

— Strengthening the Bar;

— Strengthening legal education;

— Legislative reform to strengthen judges’ powers to control judicial processes to ensure just and efficient outcomes in line with international reforms; and

— Satisfactory framework for judicial accountability.

He offered the suggestions as ”broad outlines” to be discussed and designed by competent people.

Justice Balakrishnan also drew attention to a source of overcrowding in courts.

”In a large number of cases pending in Courts, especially in higher Courts, government is one of the parties either as defendant or as appellant.”

He blamed such litigations on lack of proper governmental administration, pointing out that if authorities took impartial decisions, citizens would not normally be driven to litigation.

”Lack of proper and good governance largely contributes to the number of cases in subordinate courts,” Justice Balakrishnan said.

”When it comes to disposal of cases, the delay is disquieting,” Confederation president Pravin Parekh said, citing case arrears now close to 30 million.

He counted 46,926 cases pending in the apex court, 37,00,223 cases pending in high courts and 2,52,85,982 cases pending in district and subordinate courts.

The seminar will be attended by some 1400 delegates, including 14 sitting judges of the apex court, which has a strength of 26.

UNI MJ KD BST1837

 

 

Simplify Language Of Laws Of Land: PM – By Mukesh Jhangiani

March 6, 2005

Simplify Language Of Laws Of Land: PM*

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today launched India’s first national legal literacy mission: 2005-10 with a call to simplify the language of laws of the land.

”The complex legal language of our statutes acts as a hurdle to legal literacy… compounded by the intricacies of legal language in judicial pronouncements,” Dr Singh told invitees at the launch at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.

He said ”an attempt should be made to simplify the language of the law so that any one who reads judgements and laws can easily understand their true meaning.”
The legal literacy mission is intended to empower millions of disadvantaged and other Indian citizens through awareness and free legal aid.
”This mission is a step in the direction of empowering people to enjoy their rights,” Dr Singh said. ”Equality in law requires equal access to law for this noble principle to translate into reality.”
Prime Minister Singh reminded that Article 39A of the Constitution gives a directive to the States to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity.
”It directs the State to provide free legal aid with the aid of suitable legislation or schemes. It also directs it to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen for reason of economic or other disabilities.”
He said the dictum that ignorance of law is no excuse ”creates a duty on the part of government” to make people aware of laws it enacts.
In spite of their publication in Gazette, due to low literacy, a majority of the population is not aware of its rights and duties, he said.
”This is an initiative that is dear to me and has my whole hearted support,” Dr Singh said.
The Mission has identified a set of beneficiaries it immediately expects to address: children, minority communities, victims of militancy, victims of crime, disaster and disease, child and bonded labour, landless farming community, dalits and tribal communities, especially in the northeast, farmers hit by droughts and floods, trafficked girls and sex workers and the poorest of the poor.
”From Ignorance to Legal Empowerment” was the goal proclaimed as part of the Mission’s emblem and mascot unveiled by the Prime Minister jointly with India’s Chief Justice Ramesh Chandra Lahoti and Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj.
Justice Lahoti recalled the founding fathers’ vision of India as just and equitable for all citizens, but said ”this dream is yet to find fruition.”
In the 21st century– 57 years after independence– ”concepts such as just and equitable remain unfamiliar for the millions of people who still remain beyond the safety net of law and justice.”
Justice Lahoti said when citizens, particularly marginalised or underprivileged groups, know what the law has to offer them, they can recognise and challenge the injustices forcefully.
”The first step towards that knowledge of the law, which can transform people’s lives, is legal literacy.”
Bhardwaj told audience that the Mission was aimed at addressing the farthest geographical areas and the most vulnerable sections of the population in the first phase.
”The people need to be told the benefits of legal aid… otherwise they will continue to resign to their fate for exploitation and discrimination.”
The ceremony was also attended by Supreme Court Judges N Santosh Hegde and Y K Sabharwal and a number of other sitting and retired Judges, including Chief Justices of various High Courts.
Justice Hegde, Chairman of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), which has undertaken the Mission, reminded that legal aid was not charity– but an obligation of the State ”enshrined in Article 39A of our Constitution.”
He said NALSA was formed for this very purpose– ”to provide free and competent legal services and encourage the general public to settle their disputes amicably.”
A note of caution and realism was struck by Justice Sabharwal, Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.
”I must emphasise,” Justice Sabharwal said, ”that from Ignorance to Empowerment is a long journey and let us not hope that one NALSA will achieve it in next five years like a magic.”
”Only providing legal aid to settle a dispute is not a solution for the progress of our country.
”The solution lies in our hands if we can grant these people a window of social justice by way of monitoring why such benefits meant for them have not been delivered to them and if not delivered to them, then who in this country is responsible for such a lapse.
”We need to set examples of accountability in our Governance,” Justice Sabharwal said.
Asked afterwards whether legal literacy would include informing beneficiaries as to delays or other inadequacy involved in litigation, Justice Hegde said the effort would be to have matters resolved through pre-trial options.
These include Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques such as conciliation, mediation, arbitration and so on. Litigation would be the last step, he said.
Justice Lahoti said three steps were being taken to reduce pendencies in courts.
They included relying in a big way on ADR, making justice delivery system more effective and introducing information technology in judiciary.
Justice Lahoti also mentioned two major studies which have been undertaken jointly along with Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Progamme to identify shortcomings in the system.
Asked about inquiry commissions, some of which end up in the archives, Justice Lahoti said governments– he was not referring to incumbent government– sometimes buy time by appointing inquiries essentially to let tempers cool.
UNI MJ RP GR1823