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Ex-CJI calls for strong criminal justice system

'I am fairly satisfied what I did during my tenure as Chief Justice', says outgoing Chief Justice YK Sabharwal.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2007 13:59 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Outgoing Chief Justice YK Sabharwal on Saturday expressed concern over the delay in justice delivery system and favoured strengthening it with time bound trials, especially of cases involving the high and mighty.

In an interaction with the media on his last day in office, he dismissed a question about politicians not getting convicted in cases saying there had been such instances but added judiciary cannot convict someone who is entitled to acquittal.

"I am fairly satisfied what I did during my tenure as Chief Justice. However, more emphasis was required for criminal justice system which has to be more focused," he said.

The CJI said that his successor Justice KG Balakrishnan was conscious of the urgent need and steps would be taken with focus on criminal justice system at all levels of the court to cut short the delays.

He was particular that the cases of high and mighty be decided on fast track on a reasonable time frame.

When a reporter suggested that there had been no conviction of politicians, Sabharwal shot back saying, "How do you say this? I take strong exception to this. Convictions have been there and appeals are pending. Judiciary cannot convict whoever is entitled to acquittal."

"At every level there is delay in dispensation of justice whether it is at the magisterial level or at High Court level. Fortunately, that is not such a great problem in Supreme Court. In most of the High Court it takes five to eight years in disposal of criminal appeals. Some courts take 20 years, that is almost a life span," he said.

Further, the delay in criminal trials cause the problem of witnesses turning hostile as they are purchased, he said adding delay also creates problems for the victim, their family and also for the accused if he is innocent.

"The main emphasis is to cut short the delays," he said.
He said during his 14 months tenure as the Chief Justice, the emphasis was to maintain transparency at all levels, including the appointment of judges for the apex court.

"You must have seen the kind of transparency in the last 13-14 months," he said.

However, when asked about the impact of media in deciding the high profile criminal cases, he said, "It cannot be worse for a judge if his mind is influenced by media."

"That would be a doomsday as far as judiciary is concerned," he said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2007 13:44 IST

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