Judicial institutions in India face the unenviable task of delivering timely justice to millions of people at affordable cost, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday.

Speaking at the concluding function of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Bombay High Court, the Prime Minister said, with the rapid economic growth seen over the last two decades, this task has become even more complex, more specialised and more challenging.

“I believe that our judiciary has acquitted itself with distinction in shouldering its onerous responsibilities. Our Government stands committed to working with the judiciary to bring about improvements in the justice delivery system,” he said.

Pointing to the initiative taken by the Government, he said a National Mission for Justice Delivery was formed last year with the twin objectives of increasing access by reducing delays and arrears, and enhancing accountability.

Proposals

A Constitution Amendment Bill for increasing the age of retirement of Judges of the High Courts is now before Parliament. A comprehensive proposal has been formulated for establishment of an All India Judicial Service.

An Inter Ministerial Group is examining what amendments in the Negotiable Instruments Act are needed, along with other measures, to check increasing litigation arising out of cheque bouncing cases. A group under the Chairman of Law Commission is looking at improvements needed in court procedure and processes for a better criminal justice system, he said.

However, he said, the overall pendency of cases in various courts has declined by more than six lakh between July and December 2011. The Bombay High Court and its subordinate courts have contributed handsomely to this achievement, reducing their pendency by five lakh cases annually since the year 2010, said Singh.

Work together

All the three organs of Government (executive, legislative and judiciary) must work together to ensure social, economic and political justice for citizens. The judiciary has a very direct role in this task — that of upholding the rule of law and ensuring that the people enjoy their fundamental rights, he said.

The law is not only a code of commands. It is, in its relationship to society, the source of freedom, a methodology for redress of grievances, a source of good governance and, above all, an instrument of social and economic change.

In moulding the law to subserve these causes, the Bombay High Court has not hesitated to cast aside old maps to chart new ground. And it has endeavoured to do so consistent with the demands of stability and certainty, and the need to preserve the sanctity of the constitutional charter that divides sovereign power of a free people into different organs of government, the Prime Minister said.

suresh.iyengar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 18, 2012)
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