Need of the hour is Indianisation of legal system: CJI Ramana

·5-min read
CJI NV Ramana (File Photo)
CJI NV Ramana (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday stressed the need for 'Indianisation' of the legal system and said that system practices and rules being colonial in origin may not be best suited to the needs of the Indian population.

Speaking at an event organised by Karnataka State Bar Council to pay tribute to late Justice Mohana M Shantanagaudar (62), a Supreme Court judge who died on April 24 this year, CJI Ramana said that the courts need to be litigant centric, as they are the ultimate beneficiaries.

"I wish to speak about the Indian judicial system; very often our justice delivery poses multiple barriers for the common people. The working and the style of the courts do not sit well with the complexities of India. Our system, practices, rules being colonial in origin may not be best suited to the needs of the Indian population. The need of the hour is the Indianisation of our legal system. When I say Indianisation, I mean the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and localise our justice delivery systems," the CJI said while attending the function in Karnataka.

Explaining the need for Indianisation of legal system, CJI said, "For example, parties from a rural place fighting a family dispute are usually made to feel out of place in the court, they do not understand the arguments or pleadings which are mostly in English, a language alien to them."

"These days judgments have become lengthy, which further complicates the position of litigants. For the parties to understand the implications of a judgment, they are forced to spend more money. Courts need to be litigant centric, as they are the ultimate beneficiaries," he added.

The Chief Justice further added that the simplification of justice delivery should be our pressing concern. He said, "It is crucial to make justice delivery more transparent, accessible and effective. Procedural barriers often undermine access to justice."

CJI further said, "The common man should not be apprehensive about approaching the courts and authorities. While approaching the Court, he should not feel scared of the Judges and Courts. He should be able to speak the truth. It is the duty of lawyers and judges to create an environment that is comforting for the litigants and other stakeholders. We must not forget that the focal point of any justice delivery system is 'the litigant- the justice seeker."

The CJI further said that usage of alternate dispute mechanisms such as mediation and conciliation would go a long way in reducing the friction between parties and would save resources. This also reduces the pendency and requirement for having lengthy arguments with lengthy judgments, he added.

Remembering late Justice Shantanagaudar's contribution to the Indian judiciary, the Chief Justice said his judgments showed simplicity, abundant common sense, and a practical approach. His tenure as a Judge was marked by his concern for social equality, the opportunity to all, and the rights and liberties of the people, the CJI said.

"Sitting on a Bench with him for about a year and a half, I was witness to his legal acumen, immense preparation as well as his kindness and generosity of spirit. We grew extremely close over that period, and there were many days that we shared our views over breakfast. While sitting together, we decided on several important cases, including on the mental health of convicts sentenced to the death penalty. One thing which stood out about brother Shantanagoudar was his sense of humour and his infectious laughter. In court, when tempers could run high, he would magically make all the tension disappear with a ready pun," CJI said.

Justice Shantanagoudar encouraged young lawyers who were always welcome at his house to seek his guidance, the CJI further said, adding that "over the last year, when his health took a turn for the worse, I remember how weak he grew. I knew that he was struggling with certain medical conditions. However, he never showed it. This was because of his immense grace and strength of character."

"He was built from a different fibre. Till his last days, he continued to sit on the bench, hear cases and write judgments. His commitment to his judicial duty was inspiring," he added.

The event organised to pay tribute to late Justice Shantanagoudar was attended by CJI Ramana, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Supreme Court judges -- Justices Abdul Nazeer, AS Bopanna, Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Justice BV Nagarathna, Acting Chief Justice of Karnataka Satish Chandra Sharma, JC Madhuswamy, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs (Karnataka) and Justice Shantanagoudar's family.

The newly appointed Supreme Court judge, Justice Nagarathna remembered Justice (late) Shantanagoudar saying he believed in justice delayed is justice denied and he always was patient during hearings and exhibited all the true qualities of a judge. He was fully conscious of the fact not to betray the faith of people in the judiciary, Justice Nagarathna added.

Justice Oka said the entire legal world received a shock on April 24 after hearing the untimely demise of the Late Justice Shantanagaudar and he was known as a judge who spoke his mind, he was known as a fearless judge who upheld the liberties of individuals.

Justice Bopanna said Justice Shantanagoudar's life should be celebrated and his life was a role model to others.

Justice Nazeer remembered Justice Shantanagoudar saying he was a man whose pursuit of justice for the common man will last for many years.

"His demise has left a void in the legal fraternity," Justice Nazeer said while remembering days when they both were appointed additional judges the same day and appointed permanent judges on the same day as well in Karnataka High Court. Our path coincided again when we were both elevated to Supreme Court same time, he added.

A short documentary was also played at the event on the life of Justice Shantanagaudar.

Speaking at the event, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Justice Shantanagoudar was a common man's judge.

"We could see a set of patterns in his judgments... Of course in the framework of law, he always gave justice to the poor which shows his humane character. He was Kannadiga by heart. He made outstanding relations in a short time in Delhi," the Chief Minister said.

Justice Shantanagoudar was elevated to the Supreme Court in February 2017 from the Kerala High Court. He had a tenure in the apex court till May 5, 2023. (ANI)

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