Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the chief justices’ conference on Sunday, top judges set the tone for the event in their closed-door conclave by patting themselves on the back, and blaming the government for not providing adequate funds for the judiciary.
Chaired by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, Supreme Court judges and chief justices of 21 high courts, in their two-day conference that ended on Saturday, firmed up the strategy of placing their demands before the government.
The higher judiciary has blamed the government for mounting number of pending cases in courts across the country. More than three crore cases are pending in Indian courts.
“The courts do not possess a magic wand by which they can wave to wipe out the huge pendency of cases,” stated a 88-page agenda document discussed at the conference.
Steering clear of taking any blame on themselves, top judges of the country said the judiciary enjoys a good image.
“However, the heartening factor is that people’s faith in our judicial system continues to remain firm in spite of huge backlogs and delays. We need to retain the confidence of our people in the credibility and ability of the system,” the judges’ document asserted.
This is for the first time the Prime Minister and the top judges will come face-to-face at a public forum after the government was embarrassed in the Rajya Sabha on August 3 when its attempt to bring a bill to keep judges assets details secret was stalled in the House.
The Opposition had slammed the government for having proposed to keep judges’ assets confidential under pressure from the judiciary, though the government rebutted the allegation.
The top judges, have however, skipped any official reference in their conference on the growing demands for declaration of their assets and an urgent need to put in place an effective mechanism to check corruption within the judiciary.
Vacancies of judges and lesser number of courts have been identified as main reasons behind the huge pendency.
“The backlog cannot be reduced without additional strength of judges... Governments should not allow their financial constraints to come in the way of increase in the strength of judges,” the document stated.
The judges slammed the government for adopting a casual approach towards the decisions taken at the chief justices’ conferences in the past.
“It has been found that the decisions taken in past conferences, when sent to the government for implementation did not receive consideration at desired level. Quite often, the decisions taken at the conference are rejected on the grounds such as financially not feasible,” the conference document observed.