President calls for a more inclusive and open judiciary

The judiciary needs to represent the diversity of India, President Ram Nath Kovind said after inaugurating the National Law Day Conference in the national capital.

india Updated: Nov 25, 2017 21:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
President,Judiciary,Ram Nath Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind (C), Chief Justice of India Justice Dipak Misra (R) and Sumitra Mahajan, speaker of Lok Sabha during the inauguration of the National Law Day in New Delhi on Saturday.(PTI)

President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday advocated for more inclusiveness and transparency in the judiciary, saying public life today is like “a glasshouse” and the legal fraternity needs to be mindful of people’s “legitimate urges” for scrutiny and a transparent system.

The judiciary needs to represent the diversity of India, he said after inaugurating the National Law Day Conference in the national capital.

According to him, only about 4,700 of the 17,000 judges in lower courts, high courts and the Supreme Court are women, which is or roughly one in four.

“There is an unacceptably low representation of traditionally weaker sections such as OBCs, SCs and STs, especially in the higher judiciary. Without in any manner compromising on quality, we need to take long-term measures to remedy this situation,” Kovind said.

November 27, the day the Constitution was adopted in 1949, is observed in the Supreme Court as National Law Day. The conference was organised by the NITI Ayog and the Law Commission of India.

The President said all three organs of the state — the judiciary, executive and legislature — are obligated to be models of good conduct. “They need to be careful not to cross into each other’s finely defined space or give any opportunity to read transgressions even when none is intended.”

“This can occur in many circumstances. For instance, when extraneous comments and obiter dicta come to dominate public debates, crowding out a substantive understanding and deliberation of a well-thought-out judgment,” he said.

Calling for speedy justice with greater efficiency, Kovind said it is a “paradox” that the poor often shy away from a legal battle, worried about the duration and cost, though “we take pride in our courts and their independence”.

“And the well-off sometimes use the judicial process and its intricacies to delay resolution to issues they simply do not want resolved,” he added.

The time has perhaps come to examine adjournments of trials and whether they are to be limited to absolute emergencies or continue to be allowed to be used for tactical delays by one party or another, he said.

He called for simplifying legal rules and using easier language for delivering judgments so that these could be more accessible to people.

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 21:28 IST