CM Nitish Kumar bats for judiciary’s role in establishing rule of law in Bihar
- Kumar had earlier in his address referred to the Patna HC’s endeavour in 2006, soon after he took over the reins of the state, to help establish the rule of law by ensuring speedy trials so that wrongdoers could get punishment.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Saturday praised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s “deep insight into the purpose of law, the purpose of the courts and his interpretation of the principles of theory of the separation of power without mentioning it.”
“The theory of the separation of power does not imply hostility between the branches of the government and it is indeed extremely elevating to hear such wonderful, realistic views, which are absolutely in accordance with the Constitution. I thank the CM for understanding the needs of the courts,” he said, after inaugurating the new state-of-the-art centenary building of the Patna HC, built at a cost of ₹203-crore, to cater to the growing need of space.
Kumar had earlier in his address referred to the Patna HC’s endeavour in 2006, soon after he took over the reins of the state, to help establish the rule of law by ensuring speedy trials so that wrongdoers could get punishment.
“The government alone cannot control crime. The government does its job, but it could happen in Bihar because the courts also contributed to it significantly through speedy trial and constant monitoring. The role of judiciary is of utmost importance,” the CM said, promising whatever assistance the courts would require by way of infrastructure and manpower instantly..
The CJI said that with the passage of a century, the need for a new building was being felt for a long time due to gradual rise in litigation over the years and also the increase in the strength of judges. “The need for an additional building signifies not just the increase in the number of cases being filed in the courts, but also the growing consciousness about legal rights and increase in legal literacy, which we have been striving for. Most importantly, it shows the courts are being resorted to for settling disputes, rather than taking law in own hands,” he added.
Bobde said the old building of the Patna HC, which completed its 100 years in 2016, was an iconic structure and witness to great luminaries and great battles in the court room. “As the CM is so forthcoming, I will request the Patna HC CJ Justice Sanjay Karol to seek an additional budget from the state government for artificial intelligence (AI). The system of AI will in no way take away the discretion of the judges in deciding a case, but only ease of access of information that will change to add speed. There should not be any apprehension about it,” he added.
The CJI said the inequality due to video conferencing should also not be allowed and for that purpose, public kiosks have been developed free of cost for lawyers and litigants. “We are exploring many other facilities, including possibility of satellite access wherever cabling is not possible. Pandemic has changed the way we function,” he said, underlining the importance of pre-litigation mediation in both criminal and civil disputes within legal framework to bring down the load of cases.
76.38-lakh cases digitally heard
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who started his journey in the legal field from the Patna HC, said that even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian judiciary rose the occasion, digitally hearing 76.38-lakh cases till January 31, 2021, including 66460 cases by the Patna HC and 6.42-lakh cases by the district courts of the state.
“We are working closely with the judiciary to create a digital ecosystem. The national judicial data grid so far having 18.09-crore case status and over 13.50 judicial orders from across the country. From Bihar, 56.18-lakh cases and 8.3-lakh judicial orders are available on the grid. Cases more than 10-year-old are being fast tracked. We are also boosting telly law. For that we have over 4-lakh kiosks for obtaining free legal service,” he added.
Prasad also threw light on the social media guidelines, making it clear while the government welcomed dissent and criticism, misuse and abuse was not allowed. “We can criticise the reasoning of the judgment, but some people should not be allowed to make comments on judges or criticize them just because they did not have a judgment of their liking. The judges must have freedom. Trolling and agenda-setting is not fair,” he added.
Prasad said that soon the Centre would set up all India judicial service to have quality intake in the judicial system on the lines of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS). “The idea to have a particular number of additional district judges through open competition. Subordinate judiciary, those with seven-year experience and fresh law graduates can also sit for the exam,” he added.
Others who spoke on the occasion included the judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Navin Sinha, Justice Indira Bannerjee, Justice Hemant Kumar and chief justice of the Patna HC, Justice Sanjay Karol. A large number of former and present chief justices, judges and legal luminaries were present on the occasion.