Judiciary crisis : CJI wants credibility restored, President wants quick justice

T S Thakur, CJI

T S Thakur, CJI

Judiciary as an institution is facing crisis of credibility which is a challenge from within, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said  as he asked judges to be conscientious of their duties. “When I speak about challenges from within I am referring to the crisis of credibility that we face in the country today. Judges need to be conscientious of in their discharge of duties, punctuality, judicial retribute and effort to do the best is what is the need of the hour,” he said.

With concern being raised over huge pendency of cases, Justice Thakur did not mince any words as he said that Bar has “not been very very cooperative” in disposal of cases even if judges are ready to put extra hours. “At times judges feel that the delay in the disposal of cases is only because the Bar does not, at times, cooperate,” he said at the function to inaugurate 150th anniversary of the Allahabad High Court.

The CJI said he can assure the lawyers that if Bar cooperates, judges will be ready to sit even on Saturdays to finish old matters, especially related to people languishing in jail for years.

“We have great challenges in future and we need to get ready to meet those challenges. Judiciary as an institution, as we all know, is always under public gaze and has challenges not only from within but from outside also. Challenges from outside do not disturb us so much. We all face them well but we need to look after and what need to be aware of are challenges from within,” he said.

Seeking cooperation from the Bar in reducing pendency of cases, Justice Thakur said while judges are doing their best and have, to the satisfaction of the entire nation, upheld the Constitution, protected the rights of the people and ensured that access to justice is a reality, he would also like to also address the need for a similar commitment from Bar members.

He said without the Bar, administration of the justice is not possible terming it as the mother of the Bench. “If you have good judges it is because of the Bar that you have…. Over the period of the time we have seen that the Bar is not very very co-operative in the matter of disposal of cases,” he said underlining that there are 10 lakh cases pending in Allahabad High Court.

Justice Thakur said the cases of people who are languishing in jail can be taken on priority and disposed of but it is not possible without the cooperation of the Bar.

He said he can assure the lawyers that if Bar cooperates, judges will be ready to sit even on Saturdays to finish these old matters. “In Punjab my judges offered to sit beyond four o’clock. They said even we are ready to sit on Saturday provided the Bar cooperates but the Bench was not inclined to cooperate. “I would humbly request the Bar that over the next year when we celebrate completion of 150 year, let us also resolve that cases are disposed of in largest possible number that would be a true tribute to those who have served this institution whether as judges or lawyers in the past,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee, who was inaugurating the 150th anniversary celebration of Allahabad High Court, said justice must be “accessible, affordable and quick” for people to understand the meaning of justice. “Though the Indian judiciary has many strengths, it is yet to fully meet the aspirations of our people for speedy and affordable justice,” he said.

The remarks by the President and the CJI came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi mooted a novel idea of courts coming out with an annual bulletin to highlight the oldest cases being tried by them to help create sensitivity on pendency of cases. Modi was speaking during the centenary celebrations of Patna High Court.

The President said as an upholder of the Rule of Law and enforcer of the right to liberty, the role of the judiciary was sacrosanct and the faith and confidence people have in it must be always maintained.

“Our courts are today overburdened on account of number of cases pending before them. There are over three crore cases pending in various courts throughout the country. Out of these, about 38.5 lakh cases are pending in 24 High Courts. The pendency of cases in the High Courts has slightly declined from 41.5 lakh in 2014 to 38.5 lakh in 2015, but still have a long way to go,” he said.