Judges should use utmost discretion in courtroom utterances: President
Indiscreet remarks by judges in courts could lead to dubious interpretations that denigrates the judiciary, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Saturday, expressing pain at how disparaging remarks are being made against India’s most trusted institution on social media platforms.
“There is no doubt that you have set for yourself a high bar. Hence, it is also incumbent upon the judges to exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in the courtrooms,” said the President, who had once been a practising lawyer. “Indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intention, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary.”
Kovind was addressing judges of the Supreme Court and high courts gathered for the 72nd Constitution Day celebrations in the capital.
He referred to a remark by judge Felix Frankfurter of the US Supreme Court, who emphasized that the essential quality of judges is detachment, founded on independence. Quoting him, the President said, “History teaches that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardized when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day, and assume primary responsibility in choosing between competing political, economic and social pressure.”
India’s judiciary has conformed to highest standards of conduct while discharging its responsibility, and for this reason it remains the most trusted institution in the people’s view, he said. “It pains me no end, therefore, to note that of late there have been cases of some disparaging remarks against the judiciary made on social media platforms.”
This was an aberration and will be short-lived, Kovind said. However, he wondered what could be behind this phenomenon, stating, “These platforms have worked wonderfully to democratize information, yet they have a dark side too. The anonymity granted by them is exploited by some miscreants.”
He also spoke on curbing pendency of cases and reducing cost of litigation. “The issue of pendency has ramifications for economic growth and development too,” the President said. “It is high time all stakeholders find a way out by keeping national interest above all. Technology can be a great ally in this process.”
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, law minister Kiren Rijiju and Supreme Court judges AM Khanwilkar and L Nageswar Rao also spoke on the occasion.
“We need to rationalize and even prioritize case management apparatus” as courts are unable to deliver justice within a reasonable time due to “clogging of dockets” and “tattered legal system,” justice Khanwilkar said.
The judiciary has a crucial role in development as many infrastructure disputes are pending in courts, minister Rijiju said. “The role of judiciary in the adjudication of infrastructure disputes and keeping the larger national interests in mind is crucial for the flow of developmental trajectory and overall project costs,” he said.
Realizing the need to augment judicial infrastructure, the law minister said, “The present government is sensitive to the needs of providing well-equipped judicial infrastructure to subordinate judiciary to facilitate administration of justice in a manner that allows easy and timely delivery of justice to all.”