Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Saturday said technology has emerged as a "powerful force" for justice and it must be ensured technological solutions are designed keeping equity and inclusivity in mind.

The CJI highlighted that there was a need to recognise the significance of cultivating a shared commitment to justice.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) - Commonwealth Attorneys and Solicitors General Conference, Justice Chandrachud said it was imperative that law officers remain impervious to the politics of the day and conduct themselves with dignity in courts, ensuring the integrity of legal proceedings.

"Finally, as we stand at the intersection of tradition and innovation, technology emerges as a powerful force for justice. While it promises to enhance the speed and accessibility of justice, we must navigate carefully," he said.

"The deep-seated structural and financial hierarchies within Indian society demand consideration to ensure that technology does not inadvertently exacerbate existing problems," the CJI said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Supreme Court judge Justice Surya Kant, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Attorney General R Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also addressed the gathering.

Transparency and accountability

In his address, Justice Chandrachud said modernising courtrooms and facilities was as crucial as bolstering overall infrastructure and to ensure that technology serves to enhance transparency and accountability and not to perpetuate opacity and inequality.

The CJI, while observing that technology should bring about a transformation not just automation, referred to the e-Courts project which aims to leverage technology to improve access to justice for citizens.

"However, we must ensure that technological solutions are designed keeping in mind equity and inclusivity, taking into account the diverse needs and capabilities of all our stakeholders," he said.

Stressing on the need to recognise the significance of cultivating a shared commitment to justice, the CJI referred ro recent initiatives such as the implementation of a standard operating procedure (SOP) guiding courts in summoning government officials.

He said this ensures that a smooth code of ethics is formulated in summoning government officials, and they are not summoned arbitrarily.

"Importantly, it cautions against leveraging the power to summon officials as a tool to pressure the government, emphasising that such actions should be reserved for circumstances crucial to the administration of justice," he said.

"This collaborative approach involving legal officers, government officials, and the judiciary reinforces the ethical underpinnings of executive accountability while fostering a culture of mutual respect and cooperation within the justice system," Justice Chandrachud said.

He said the aim of this conference strikes at the heart of "our collective endeavour - to foster collaboration between officers of the court entrusted with the responsibility of justice administration".

"In today's rapidly evolving world, characterised by an array of pressing issues, the need to fortify institutional capacity is more urgent than ever before. This event is not merely a congregation of legal minds; it is a strategic alliance, a noble endeavour toward a more just legal system globally," the CJI said.

Addressing cross-border justice challenges

He underscored the significance of global collaboration and trust-building in addressing the diverse cross-border challenges to justice delivery.

Justice Chandrachud said sustainable development goals serve as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

The CJI said one crucial aspect of shaping this future lies in the realm of legal education and the emerging trends in legal education, such as the integration of technology and interdisciplinary studies, offer exciting opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

"However, as we strive to modernise legal education, we must also confront the question of equitable access to legal education. Entrance tests for admission to law schools must not be exclusionary. We must ensure that our admissions processes are fair, transparent, and inclusive," he said.

"This necessitates a holistic approach towards admission and recruitment that considers not only academic performance but also factors such as socioeconomic background, diversity, and life experiences," the CJI said.

Referring to the pivotal role of law officers in upholding the ethics in legal practice, he said the law officers serve as the primary point of contact between the courts and the government.

"A crucial aspect of executive accountability rests on the ethical conduct and responsibility of law officers, who function not only as representatives of the government but also as officers of the court," the CJI said.

Speaking at the occasion, Justice Surya Kant said this conference aims at bringing together legal luminaries, scholars and practitioners in an effort to translate visionary ideas into tangible actions.

"Its true significance lies in encouraging substantive discussions on pressing legal issues, promoting mutual understanding of legal mechanisms in the commonwealth nations and strategically charting the path forward for the evolution of legal education and justice systems," Justice Surya Kant said.