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Exercise restraint: Chief Justice Kapadia to judges

Sunday November 27, 2011 11:40:14 AM, IANS

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia Saturday urged the judiciary to exercise restraint and resist the temptation of encroaching upon the domains of the government and parliament lest it jeopardises the entire system.

"The judiciary needs to work in the area demarcated by the constitution," said Chief Justice Kapadia.

"The principle of judicial independence has acquired renewed significance, since the Constitution of India has conferred on the judiciary the power of judicial review," he said in his inaugural address at a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association on the National Law Day.

"However, keeping in mind the doctrine of separation of powers, the judiciary has to exercise considerable restraint to ensure that the surcharged democracy does not lead to a breakdown of the working of parliament and the government," the chief justice said.

He said that the awareness among people about their rights and a low rate of redressal by the executive (government) was generating and multiplying litigation.

Chief Justice Kapadia said: "The executive has its own compulsions - huge population, lack of resources and high inflation."

"Let me say that there is a need to highlight that all the stakeholders are accountable for maintaining and achieving standards of court excellence," he said, complimenting the judiciary.

The entire judiciary could not be maligned by generalising the wrongdoings of a few judges here and there, he said.

"We, the judges, do not mind a studied fair criticism. However, as an advice to the bar, please do not dismantle an institution without showing how to build a better one," the chief Justice said.

Dwelling on the judicial independence and accountability, the chief justice said: "In the hierarchy of values, judicial integrity is above judicial independence. Judicial accountability needs to be balanced with judicial independence."

Disapproving the general tendency to put the entire blame on the judges for the poor rate of disposal of cases, Chief Justice Kapadia said: "The executive, including the police, and the bar have an important role to play in expeditious disposal of cases."

Calling for the rejuvenation of the entire justice delivery system by "restoring its credibility and people's faith in it", Chief Justice Kapadia said: "I am an optimist. I do not share the impression that judicial system has collapsed or is fast collapsing."

"I strongly believe and maintain that with all the drawbacks and limitations with shortage of resources and capacity, we still have a time-tested system," the chief justice said.

The foremost challenge to the judiciary today was the viability of the system. Citizens approach the court only when there was confidence in the system and faith in the wisdom of the judges. This was where the public trust doctrine came in. The institution stood on public trust, the chief justice said.

"This is no justification to discard the system by giving it a bad name" merely because of drawbacks and limitations with shortage of resources and capacity.

Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid said that today an overall churning was taking place over here as also in the world. "I want the lawyers to reach out to opinion makers to make them aware of the compulsions of the legal system," he said.

Khurshid said that the demand for more benches could be resolved only if the Supreme Court and the high courts looked forward to paperless courts.






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