Full text of the speech delivered by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India Shri Justice N V Ramana at the Valedictory Ceremony of Constitution Day Celebrations Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi
Full text of the speech delivered by
Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India Shri Justice N V Ramana at the Valedictory Ceremony of
Constitution Day Celebrations
Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi
27 November, 2021
Finally, the two day long celebration of Constitution day is coming to an end. In these two days, we have had a vibrant exchange of ideas. Celebrating Constitution Day is not new to the legal fraternity. However, this year it has been special because the three organs of the State have come together to exchange their views on various issues.
I am happy that all of you could take out time to travel from different parts of the country to be a part of this event.
The purpose of this meet was to highlight our dedication to constitutional principles. Yesterday, I mentioned how even the well-informed sections of the society are unaware of the importance of the Constitution. Although we are tirelessly working to uphold the Constitution, but there is still a need to spread more understanding about the Constitution.
If people are unaware about their rights and entitlements, they cannot claim benefit from the same. People also need to know the scope and limitations of the roles ascribed to the different organs of the State. We need to clear the prevailing misconceptions. For example, many people in this country believe that it is the Courts which make the laws.
Another set of misunderstandings relate to the belief that the Courts are responsible for liberal acquittals and adjournments. However, the truth is that the public prosecutors, advocates and parties – all have to co-operate with the judicial process. Non-cooperation, procedural lapses and faulty investigation cannot be blamed on Courts.
There are issues with the judiciary that need to be addressed. This is one of the reasons I am so glad that all the Chief Justices and senior Judges in India were able to participate in this event. The Attorney General’s suggestions yesterday were also enlightening. While highlighting the issue of judicial pendency, he proposed the restructuring of the judicial system and altering the hierarchy of the Courts. This is something that merits consideration by the Government.
Since independence, I do not think there has been a serious study to consider what exactly should be the structural hierarchy of judiciary in India.
Another issue is that the legislature does not conduct studies or assess the impact of the laws that it passes. This sometimes leads to big issues. The introduction of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act is an example of this. Now, the already burdened magistrates are further burdened by thousands of these cases. Similarly, rebranding the existing courts as commercial courts, without creating a special infrastructure, will not have any impact on the pendency.
Therefore, the issue of pendency is multifaceted in nature. I hope the Government takes into consideration the suggestions received during these two days and resolves the prevailing issues.
Today we are fortunate to have the presence of Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji. It was through his guidance that we thought of conducting this program in a grand way. It was the Hon’ble President who actually set the tone for this event.
As a former lawyer, he has always championed the cause of upholding justice. He understands the difficulties and problems of the people at the grassroot level. During his tenure, he has supported our institution in every way.
He has always been very concerned about increasing access to justice. It was his vision that led to the recently concluded legal aid movement across India. He suggested that the Courts should translate judgments into Indian languages so as to reach the maximum number of people.
The Hon’ble President has constantly encouraged the entry of women into the profession. He called for increased representation of women in the judiciary.
His concern for the judiciary is also clear from the fact that he has been travelling all across the country and interacting with Judges of the High Courts, which is very encouraging.
The Hon’ble President’s dedication to a vision of equality and justice, will naturally trickle down to the conscience of the common man. His journey to being the President of India, has been of immense hope to the people of this country.
As informed by Hon’ble Law Minister Shri Kiren Rijiju, the Government has been allocating substantial amounts for development of judicial infrastructure. However, as I have highlighted yesterday, funds are not the problem. The problem is with some of the States not coming forward to match the grants. As a result, the central funds largely remain unutilised. That is the reason why I am proposing a special purpose vehicle of Judicial Infrastructure of Authority. I beseech the Minister to take this proposal to logical conclusion. I also urge the Hon’ble Minister to expedite the process of filling judicial vacancies.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The pandemic demanded us to transform the way we approach various issues. It has forced us to develop certain good practices which will support us in the days to come, although at a terrible cost. The Indian Judiciary was one of the first institutions to shift to the online mode. This has opened a world of opportunities and we have witnessed innumerable benefits arising out of it. For this I must thank all my Brother and Sister Judges, particularly Brothers Justice Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Nageswara Rao, who are the heads of various Committees in the Supreme Court relating to technology, as well as the Chief Justices and concerned judges of the High Courts. My brother Justice U U Lalit has been leading a spirited campaign to spread awareness about legal aid under the aegis of NALSA.
We are fortunate to have the enlightening company of my Brother Justice Khanwilkar. His commitment to the cause of access to justice is well known. Under his leadership, the Supreme Court legal services committee has come to the rescue of many.
I also have to thank my two brother judges who have conducted insightful sessions earlier today on very relevant topics.
Brother Chandrachud chaired the session on Technology and access to justice: A vision for the future. As the chairperson of the E-committee, he has been doing a wonderful job. In fact, this morning an application in various Indian languages for enhanced access was released.
Brother Nageswara Rao chose a topic which urges introspection on our journey so far – “75 years of independence: constitutional perspective and vision”. It is important to carry out such introspection regularly to chart our path ahead.
It is the collective efforts of highly committed and dedicated officers and staff of the Registry of the Supreme Court who made it possible to organise an event of this magnitude. I convey my special thanks to each one of them, for all the hard work they have been putting in for making this event successful.
The past two years have been very difficult for everyone. Many of our judges, judicial officers and staff have lost their lives. I can understand the amount of stress and suffering you must have faced in these tough times. However, these times have taught us to be ready for any future challenges, be it natural or otherwise.
We must remember, that whatever criticism or obstacle that we may encounter, our mission to render justice cannot stop. We have to march on in pursuing our duty to strengthen the judiciary and protect the rights of the citizenry. This sacred responsibility now rests upon your able shoulders.