Amid criticism of alleged judicial overreach, Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia on Saturday said the “judiciary has to exercise considerable restraint to ensure that the surcharged democracy does not lead to a breakdown of the working of Parliament and the government”.
Addressing a gathering of judges and advocates on Law Day — celebrated to mark the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1949 — the CJI advised his “brother judges” to work within the area demarcated for them by the Constitution. Law minister Salman Khurshid was also present at the event organised at the Supreme Court premises.
The CJI has himself said in the past that constitutional courts’ power of judicial review was a guarantee against arbitrariness in government actions.
On corruption, Justice Kapadia said that if any judge was corrupt, he/she should be named in public, but cautioned against putting all judges in “one basket”.
“Don’t bring the entire judiciary in disrepute. Please don’t dismantle the established system and institution unless and until you’ve something better to offer.”
He also said that anybody making allegations against judges should have solid material to back it.
Maintaining that judicial integrity was above judicial independence, the CJI said: "If judges are of integrity, they will not worry on accountability and the Judicial Accountability Bill.”
On the issue of judicial arrear of three crore cases, the CJI said, “Wrong impression is being projected regarding pendency of cases in judiciary.” Kapadia said it was wrong to say 56,000 cases were pending in the Supreme Court. In fact only 8,710 ‘ready cases’ (after completion of procedural formalities for hearing) were pending in the SC, the CJI said.