New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called himself a veteran at the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts, as he urged ministry, legal officers and state governments’ heads in attendance to evolve a forward-looking judicial system that will be a pioneer for others by 2047.
Addressing the meeting at Vigyan Bhawan here, Modi termed it has special significance as it comes in the 75th year of our Independence.
He added from here on the path ahead when India celebrates its independence centenary the legal system should be so evolved that the global community should look up to it and its expertice in resolving issues.
The prime minster pointed out that mediation is key to the legal process to ensure quick resolve and social justice, a Mediation Law is in its nascent drafting stage and he is himself involved in the process.
He added that his government believes in taking every opportunity to the last mile to the people and in to that end he urged chief ministers to do away with obsolete laws for ease of living of citizens. He said while the Centre under his lead has done away with over a thousand of such laws, the states together have only nixed 75 such dead legalities.
The Prime Minister said that the Centre identified about 1,800 laws in 2015 that had become irrelevant, out of these, 1450 laws were from the Centre and they were removed. In taking governance and justice to the last person in the country, Modi said it was important to make legal terminology understandable to common man.
To streamline the process, like his advice to make medical and technical studies in mother tongue, legal jargon should also be made easier and accessible to the layman, so he can approach the court and look forward to justice in every step of the way.
Speaking just after Chief Justice NV Ramana, Modi said it is the judiciary’s role to be the guardian of Constitution, while the legislature represents citizens’ aspiration.
“I am confident that this combination of these two streams of the Constitution will prepare a roadmap for an effective and time-bound judicial system in the country,” he said.
The Chief Justice said that the non-performance of the various wings of the executive and the ambiguities in the legislations were contributing a lot to the case load of the judiciary.
“If the authorities perform their functions in accordance with law, people would not approach the courts,” the CJI said. “The law and the constitution are at times ignored in governance and opinion of the legal department is not sought in the rush to implement executive decisions,” he said ahead of Modi’s address.
After Justice Ramana urged for improving judge is to population ratio in the country which stood at 20: 10lakh, the prime minister appealed to all chief justices of high courts and chief ministers to be sympathetic to and prioritise cases of 3.5 lakh undertrial prisoners across various jails in the country.
“There are about 3.5 lakh prisoners in the country who are under-trial and are in jail. Most of these people are from poor or ordinary families. In every district, there is a committee under the chairmanship of the district judge to review these cases, and they can be released on bail if possible. I appeal to all CMs and Chief Justices of High Courts to give priority to these matters on human sensibilities,” Modi said.
Modi harked back to “our society’s thousands of years old tradition” for resolving disputes through mediation. Speaking in detail, he said it was quick solutions were part of social justice, as he added that there was need to simplify laws for the common man and said that “the intricacies of the law for the common man is a serious issue.”
“Together with the legal language, laws should also be prepared and presented for the people in language of the common man. This system is already in place in some countries,” he said.
He also said that the country needs to promote local languages in courts. This will increase the trust of common citizens of the country in the justice system, they will feel connected to it, he added.
“Even today in our country, all the proceedings of the High Court and the Supreme Court are in English. It is difficult for large part of our population to understand the judicial process and the decisions. We need to simplify the system for the general public,” he said.
The PM said that the country needs to create a judicial system where justice is easily available, quick and for everyone.
“What sort of justice system would we like to see in the country in 2047 when the country completes 100 years of its independence. How do we enable our judicial system so that it can fulfil the aspirations of India of 2047, live up to them, this should be our priority today,” he said.
He said that Government of India also considers the possibilities of bringing technology in the judicial system as an essential part of the Digital India Mission. The e-courts project is being implemented in mission mode today, he added.
“In many countries, subjects such as block chains, electronic discovery, cybersecurity, robotics, AI and bioethics are being taught in law universities. In our country also legal education should be as per these international standards, it is our responsibility,” the PM said.
Talking about growing role of digitalisation in everyday affairs, Modi said that digital transactions are becoming common in small towns and even villages. Of the total number of digital transactions that took place last year across the world, 40 per cent of digital transactions have taken place in India, he said.
The previous such conference was held in 2016 last and this comes after a gap of six years as Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju announced that central sponsored schemes for judiciary have been extended till 2025-2026.