PM Modi tells India’s top judges to introspect, self-regulate

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday India's judiciary should be both powerful and perfect, stressing there was a great 'responsibility' on the judges.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2015 00:47 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday asked the judiciary to evolve a mechanism of self-criticism, saying judges, unlike politicians, were not subject to public scrutiny.

Even a slight erosion of faith in the judiciary would hurt the nation, he said. "If the politicians or the government make a mistake, the judiciary can correct it, but if you commit a mistake, it is the end," Modi told a conference of chief justices and chief ministers.

The PM asked if “five-star activists were driving the judiciary” as he underlined the need for judges to stay away from perception driven justice. “We will have to think whether these days five-star activist(s) are driving the whole judiciary? Whether an effort is on to drive the judiciary through scaremongering,” the PM said.

“It is easier to deliver justice within the parameters of the Constitution. But in the environment of perception, serving justice has become difficult.”

With the growth of Indian economy, activists have sought courts’ intervention on several environmental and social issues, often leading to a debate over judicial overreach in policy matters.

“…The person (judge) is scared, what is happening outside, if I do this what would happen. Everyone -- be it government, media or the class of five-star activists -- will have to work to strengthen the judiciary,” Modi said.

The judiciary, said the PM, should be both powerful and “perfect” to play its “divine role” of dispensing justice to the common man.

Modi, who addressed the conference as PM for the first time, asked the top judges to have an internal mechanism for self-assessment to live up to the high expectation of the people. "We (the political class) are lucky that people assess us and rip us apart. You (Judiciary) are not as lucky.

"Even if you give death penalty, a person comes out and says he has faith in the judiciary... When there is little scope for criticism, the need of the hour is to develop an internal mechanism for self-criticism where the government and the politicians have no role," the PM said.

A votary of a lean government, the PM called for reviewing if tribunals -- whose numbers had multiplied to 100 -- were coming in the way of justice delivery.

“If the budget allocated to tribunals goes to courts, it may strengthen them further,” the PM said.

The comments came in the backdrop of a thinking in the government that some of the tribunals could be merged to avoid an overlap.

Sharply drafted laws with minimum grey areas would go a long way in bringing down litigation. The PM identified cyber crime, maritime security and outer space as areas that would need special attention in the coming years.

Under the Digital India Programme, technology should be deployed to bring about a qualitative change in the judiciary.

Modi again called for scrapping redundant laws and requested CMs to do the same.

Lok adalats were an effective way of dispensing justice for the common man and the mechanism should be strengthened, the PM said.

“I have seen the successful experiment of lok adalats in Gujarat from where I come. Once I calculated that one can justice in 35 paise. Last night at the dinner while chatting with judges I verified it again. After inquiring, I got to know that now you can’t justice in 35 paise. Now justice is delivered in R50 to 55, it is the expenditure.”

First Published: Apr 05, 2015 12:20 IST