New Delhi, Jan 12: As the outcry for a speedy justice delivery system gains momentum in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape, President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday called for judicial reforms to take “centre-stage in the fast-transforming world”.
“It is imperative for enhancing the quality of justice that is at the core of human existence and welfare of any society. It is simply the fundamental goal of all societies,” Mukherjee said in his inaugural address at the International Seminar on Global Trends in Judicial Reforms here.
The president noted that justice was “time-consuming and expensive” in India and termed the 3.1 crore pending cases in subordinate courts and high courts, as of end 2011, “a cause for concern.” The pendency of cases in the Supreme Court was 66,000 in the end of 2012.
“Delay further adds to the costs. Therefore, in many ways it is tantamount to denying justice and this is against the principle of equality that is the bedrock of democracy.”
“We must engineer change to reduce the backlog of court cases,” he said adding he had “full faith in the genius of our judiciary to find the way forward to effect reforms in the judicial system so as to sustain the faith of the common man in the justice delivery process”.
The efficacy of the judicial system, Mukherjee stressed, would depend on its capacity to deliver justice to all irrespective of their social or economic standing in the society.
Also noting that at times, the judiciary has departed from its traditional role of settling disputes to addressing social concerns, the president said: “Some of the positive contributions that such activism have spawned are unquestionable.”
However, he cautioned that three organs of state – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – should not step into each others domain.
President Mukherjee also favoured expanding the scope of International Court of Justice at the Hague.
“In the light of the far-reaching changes gripping the world, there may be a need to broaden the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice at the Hague beyond those involving trade, business and commerce. This is required in the context of disputes that arise on account of trans-national commercial operations,” he said.
He urged the international legal fraternity to deliberate allowing legal professionals to practice without hindrance in all countries.
“The need also arises as small developing countries are inadequately equipped due to lack of expertise in the intricacies of world agreements and its dispute settlement mechanisms,” he said.