Chief Justice of India Justice T.S. Thakur on Monday urged the government to pay attention to the judiciary and address its problems.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort here, he said he wondered if the Prime Minister would say something about the country’s judicial system.
“Think about justice for the citizens of this country,” the Chief Justice said at a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on the Independence Day here.
Pointing to the delays that have crept into the justice delivery system on account of huge pendency of cases, Chief Justice Thakur said that during the British Raj a case used to be decided in 10 years time but now even that was not happening due to the huge backlog.
Pointing out that he has reached his career’s pinnacle and was not going anywhere from here and hence didn’t think twice before speaking, he said: “Please think how to deliver justice to the people.”
Reciting couplets of acclaimed Urdu poet Allama Iqbal, Chief Justice Thakur said that flowers and at times fruit are being showered on others, and the government could spare some for the judiciary as well.
At the start of a similar Independence Day function at the Supreme Court, the knot on the Tricolour did not open when the Chief Justice tried to unfurl the national flag.
Explaining how the flag was finally unfurled, the Chief Justice said: “We took out the pole, undid the knot on the flag, refixed the pole and unfurled it.”
He said those manning the top judiciary were not weak if Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad refused to be provoked by references to judicial appointments by the Bar Association office-bearers.
Bar Association Vice-President Ajit Sinha earlier urged the minister to consult the association while appointing judges. Its Secretary Gaurav Bhatia said judicial appointments should be made on time.
In his address as guest of honour, the Law Minister said the appointment of judges would go ahead, irrespective of whether a memorandum of procedure (MoP) was in place or not.
He said the Modi government had taken this position right at the year’s beginning that absence of MoP would not come in the way of appointment of judges to higher judiciary.
On Friday, the Chief Justice urged the government to clear the appointment of judges as recommended by the Supreme Court collegium.
The real freedom would be when we will be free of poverty and exploitation, Chief Justice Thakur said, pointing out that 10 crore people lived below the poverty line in 1947 while the number at present was 40 crore Indians.
Scoffing at Rs 26 and Rs 32 poverty line set for people living in rural and urban areas respectively, the Chief Justice said if we take a realistic position then 50 per cent of the Indians are still living in poverty.
The mere fact that one gets two meals a day is no basis for determining the poverty or below poverty line status of a person, he said.
He said employment scenario too posed a real challenge, and recalled that 14 post-graduates were working as peons at the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh.
Recalling the journey that India had undertaken since its Independence, the Chief Justice said the country has come a long way.
“Today, we are a nuclear power and on road to be a regional power and no one can dare to look at us,” he said. “We need to introspect what we have achieved and what we have lost”.