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Incumbent upon judges to exercise discretion in observations: President

PTI | | Updated on: Nov 27, 2021
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“Without diluting it to the slightest degree, can a better way be found to select judges for the higher judiciary?”

President Ram Nath Kovind, on Saturday, said it is incumbent upon the judges to exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in the courtrooms as indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intentions, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary.

Addressing the valedictory function of the two-day Constitution Day celebrations organised by the Supreme Court, Kovind said in Indian tradition, judges are imagined as a model of rectitude and detachment, more akin to “sthitpragya” (a person of steady wisdom).

The president said, "We have a rich history of legions of such judges known for their utterances full of sagacity and conduct beyond reproach, which have become hallmarks for the future generations." He said he is happy to note that the Indian judiciary has been adhering to those highest standards.

“There is no doubt that you have set for yourself a high bar. Hence, it is also incumbent upon the judges to exercise utmost discretion in the utterances in courtrooms. Indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intentions, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary,” Kovind said.

The President, who was speaking in the presence of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and other judges, said in people's view, the judiciary is the most trusted institution. He also expressed anguish at the remarks made against judges on social media platforms.

“It pains me to no end, therefore, to note that of late, there have been cases of some disparaging remarks against the judiciary made on social media platforms. These platforms have worked wonderfully to democratise information, yet they have a dark side too. The anonymity granted by them is exploited by some miscreants. I hope this is an aberration and it will be short-lived,” Kovind said.

The president spoke about pendency of cases and appointment of judges, and made it clear that he is of the firm view that the independence of the judiciary is non-negotiable. He, however, asked, "Without diluting it to the slightest degree, can a better way be found to select judges for the higher judiciary?" "For instance, there can be an all-India judicial service which can select, nurture and promote the right talent, right from the lower levels to the higher levels," Kovind said.

Addressing pendency of cases

CJI NV Ramana, in his address, said the legislature does not conduct studies or assess the impact of the laws that it passes, which sometimes leads to “big issues” and result in over-burdening of cases on the judiciary.

The CJI said simply re-branding the existing courts as commercial courts, without creating a special infrastructure, will not have any impact on the pendency of cases.

"Another issue is that the legislature does not conduct studies or assess the impact of the laws that it passes. This sometimes leads to big issues. The introduction of section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act is an example of this. Now, the already-burdened magistrates are further burdened by thousands of these cases. Similarly, re-branding the existing courts as commercial courts, without creating a special infrastructure, will not have any impact on the pendency," he said.

Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act deals with dishonour of cheques for insufficiency of funds in bank accounts.

The CJI lauded the announcement of the law minister that the government has allocated ₹9,000 crore, a substantial amount, for the development of judicial infrastructure.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said one cannot be in a situation where it becomes difficult to implement the laws passed by the legislature and the verdicts delivered by the judiciary. He noted that the bills passed by Parliament and the state legislatures, and the verdicts delivered by the Supreme Court are the laws of the land.

“Legislature, judiciary, executive, all sections of the society have to think as the country is run as per the Constitution,” he said.

Published on November 27, 2021

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