April 15, 2016 12:34:10 am
EXPRESSING CONCERN over delay in pronouncement of judgments by courts, Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Thursday said judicial minds should be trained to eliminate subconscious loyalties.
Speaking at an event in Lucknow to mark the sesquicentennial celebrations of the Allahabad High Court, Ansari said: “The judicial mind should be so trained as to eliminate subconscious loyalties and in the execution of justice, he or she should, in the words of the 17th century English Judge Sir Mathew Hale, lay aside (his) own passions and not to give way to them, however, provoked.” Besides Ansari, the event was also attended by Governor Ram Naik and Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court D Y Chandrachud.
“An ex-Chief Justice of India had identified long judgments, frequent adjournments and lengthy oral arguments in a response about delay… Each of these, let me add, is remediable and can be remedied given the will and the commitment on the part of the judiciary and the fraternity of lawyers,” said Ansari.
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“The desire for immortality through the pages of law reports can be achieved better through sharp and succinct pronouncements, as was done in an earlier period and has been done by great judges the world over… Judgments in an earlier generation were concise and cryptic and adjournments were allowed only for good reason,” he added.
Terming long oral arguments as an “Indian malaise”, he cited the example of the United States Supreme Court, where each side is allowed only 30 minutes for oral presentation. “There is no reason why verbosity cannot be restrained.”
Maintaining that the burden of delivery of justice falls on judges, Ansari said: “Lack of access of justice, the high cost, delays in delivery of justice, lack of a mechanism for accountability and allegations of corruption have together given rise to doubts and added to the pervasive pessimism about the efficacy of the institutions.”
To press his point further, Ansari said Kautilya’s ‘Artha Shashtra’ also says that judges shall discharge their duties objectively and impartially. “Another area of concern was excessive zeal reflected at times in pronouncements of members of judiciary… Some observers have asserted that the Supreme Court has given up any formal pretense to the doctrine of the separation of powers,” he said.
Chief Justice Chandrachud, speaking about the challenges that need to be addressed, said: “Our judgments must speak to the common citizens in the language that gives priority to clarity and content over forms and legal jargon. Our institutions must put in place transparency in our functioning, in dissemination of information and observance of time line for the appearance of witnesses and litigant in court.”
He added that there is a need to ensure that trial of civil cases are handled with a high degree of professionalism and advised the use of modern technology with increased use of electronic mode to record evidence.
Chandrachud, while citing problems in the delivery of timely justice, said: “We have to find answers to a familiar scenario when a session trial is indefinitely delayed due to the absence of the investigating officer, who has been transferred, or the medical witness, who does not have time to depose in court.” He also emphasised on the need to improve working conditions at the district judiciary.
Governor Ram Naik took up the issue of vacant posts of judges in the high court. “It is surprising that against the sanctioned posts of 160 judges, only 71 were working and rest 56 per cent are lying vacant,” he said.
Paying tribute to Ambedkar on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary, Naik also wished everyone Ram Navami, which falls on Friday. “Ram was an ideal king… His life was for everyone to see how to run a country… To achieve “Ram Rajya” in the country, one would have to work as per the Constitution,” he added.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was a guest at the event, could not make it and minister Ahmed Hasan represented him. Hasan, however, did not even know the occasion being observed. During his address, he spoke on the “inauguration of the new high court building”, which had already been dedicated to the public in Akhilesh’s presence last month.
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