The Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Saturday mentioned that “non-performance by various wings of the executive” and “the legislature not realising its full potential” are the “two major reasons” for docket explosion within the nation, whereas including that a rise within the sanctioned power of judges and refill present vacancies will assist deal with the problem of pendency.
Inaugurating the eleventh Joint Convention of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, the CJI mentioned that “the 140-crore strong population of the world’s largest democracy is bound to test its judiciary” and “no other constitutional court in the world hears such a wide range of issues in such large numbers”.
Explaining the elements that contribute to a rise in litigation, he mentioned that farmers wouldn’t go to a court docket if a Tehsildar acts on their grievances relating to land or a ration card, residents gained’t look to courts if a municipal authority or gram panchayat discharges its duties, and there gained’t be land disputes — which account for 66 per cent of pendency — if income authorities observe due process whereas buying land. Equally, staff gained’t be compelled to strategy courts if service legal guidelines are utilized pretty, and there might be no circumstances towards police investigations if unlawful arrests and custodial torture come to an finish.
“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”, he mentioned, whereas including: “It is a well acknowledged fact that the governments are the biggest litigants, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the cases.”
Ramana additional mentioned that abiding by legislation and the structure is the important thing to good governance, however that’s typically ignored, and the opinions of authorized departments aren’t sought in a rush to implement government selections.
Contempt petitions, which come up as selections of courts aren’t carried out by governments for years collectively, are a brand new class of burden on the courts, he identified. “The judiciary is also confronted with the issue of the executive willingly transferring the burden of decision making to it. At times, ambiguities in legislation also add to existing legal issues.”
Advocating for debates earlier than a legislation is handed by the Parliament, the CJI mentioned: “If the legislature passes a law with clarity of thought, foresight and with people’s welfare in mind, the scope for litigation gets minimised. The legislature is expected to solicit the views of the public and debate the Bills, clause by clause, threadbare, before enacting a law.”
On the query of the “judiciary often being blamed” for pendency, the CJI mentioned that “the number of cases filed and disposed of each day is unimaginable.”
He identified that frivolous Public Curiosity Litigations (PIL) are another excuse for the pendency. “These days, PILs have become a tool for those who want to settle political scores or corporate rivalry. Realizing the potential for misuse, the courts are now highly cautious in entertaining the same,” Ramana added.
Reiterating the theme of “Indianisation of the Justice Delivery System”, the CJI mentioned that this could imply “increasing accessibility by moulding the system to suit the needs and sensibilities of the Indian population”, including that this could “call for inclusivity, providing access to justice, removal of language barriers, reforms in practice and procedure, development of infrastructure, filling up of vacancies, and augmenting the strength of the judiciary among others”.
“I am receiving many representations for introducing local languages in proceedings before the high courts. I think the time has come now, to revisit the demand and take it to a logical conclusion. The practice of law before constitutional courts should be based on one’s intelligence and understanding of the law, and not mere proficiency in language,” the CJI mentioned.
Talking about filling up of vacancies, the CJI mentioned that “out of 1104 sanctioned posts of high court judges, 388 are vacant”. Of the 180 suggestions made for appointments ever since he assumed workplace as CJI, the federal government had made 126 appointments, whereas 50 proposals are nonetheless awaiting approval, Ramana identified. “The high courts have sent around 100 names to the Government of India. They are yet to reach us. Data reveals the earnest efforts being made by the judiciary to fill the vacancies.”
Placing out information to point out the rise in burden on the judiciary, the CJI mentioned that whereas the sanctioned power of judicial officers has elevated by solely 16 per cent in 6 years, the corresponding rise in pendency in district courts is 54.64 per cent. “This shows how inadequate the increase in the sanctioned strength is. Please be generous in creating more posts and filling the same so that our judge-to-population ratio is comparable to advanced democracies. As per the sanctioned strength, we have just around 20 judges per 10 lakh people, which is alarmingly low.”