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Important to protect, promote independence & integrity of judiciary at all levels: CJI Ramana

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New Delhi: Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Sunday said the mind of the Indian judiciary can be known to millions largely through the actions of trial courts and district judiciary and therefore, nothing is more important than to ‘preserve, protect and promote’ the independence and integrity of the judiciary at all levels.

He said the Indian judiciary has always remained in the forefront of shaping the welfare state and the decisions of the constitutional courts of the country have enabled social democracy to thrive.

Speaking at the valedictory function of Legal Awareness and Outreach Campaign under the aegis of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), the Chief Justice said, “Despite our being a part of a welfare state, benefits are not trickling down to the intended beneficiaries at the desired levels. People’s aspirations about leading a dignified life are often met with challenges. One of them, primarily, being poverty”.

“The mind of the Indian judiciary can be known to millions largely through the actions of the Trial Court and the District judiciary. For an overwhelming majority of litigants, what is real and existing is only the district judiciary. Without robust justice delivery system at the grassroot level, we cannot imagine a healthy judiciary. Therefore, nothing is more important than to preserve, protect and promote the independence and integrity of the judiciary at all levels,” he said.

CJI Ramana, who was addressing chief justices and judges from high courts for the first time in non-virtual mode, said, “Together, we have been handling the responsibilities entrusted to us by the constitution with utmost sincerity and commitment. The immense trust reposed by the public at large upon the judiciary, as a last resort of hope, stands testimony to this fact. The Supreme Court and the high courts are hugely conscious of the constitutional scheme, which is honoured in letter and spirit by all of us”.

He urged the judges that since decisions of the constitutional court have a huge social impact, they should be easily comprehensible and must be written in simple and clear language.

“Today, I can state that we all have sincerely worked to live up to the aspirations of the framers of our constitution. The Indian judiciary has always remained in the forefront in shaping this welfare state. The decisions of the constitutional courts of this country have enabled social democracy to thrive,” he said in the programme which was attended by Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Zubin Irani.

CJI Ramana said the ability of constitutional courts to function with absolute independence and necessary boldness in the face of adversity defines the character of the institution.

“Our ability to uphold the constitution sustains our impeccable character. There is no other way to live up to the faith of our people,” he said, adding that the stark divide between haves and have nots is still a reality and “no matter how many cherished declarations we successfully arrive it, in the face of poverty, inequity and deprivations, it will all seem pointless”.

The Chief Justice of India said this is where initiatives like the intensive awareness campaign launched by NALSA on Gandhi Jayanti assume importance and these schemes and activities of NALSA act as a necessary bridge ensuring access between the benefactor and the beneficiary.

Emphasising on the role of high courts, the CJI said it assumes great importance as they are entrusted with the duty to supervise and oversee the functioning of all the other courts in the state.

“The state judiciary, being closely associated with the people, has to be sensitive and aware about their problems and practical difficulties. In particular, it needs to be cognizant about both victims as well as accused, and must facilitate their emergency needs. After all, the law needs to operate humanely. Remember, it is the trial court which is approached first by a woman in distress, a child in need of care, or an illegal detenue,” he said.

Urging law students and senior lawyers to participate in the campaign, he said that people who are suffering do not look for well dressed, erudite lawyers or colossal court buildings and all they want is to be relieved of their pain quickly, without exhausting all their resources.

“The importance of law students in our legal aid movement cannot be understated. An active interest by the younger population in eradicating the existing social problems will definitely pave the way for a brighter India. The State Legal Services Authorities must ensure larger participation of the students in the legal aid movement,” he said.

Irani said the next 75 years of independent India need to be equally about responsibility of citizens towards the community and the nation, and not just rights.

Justice U U Lalit, the executive chairman of NALSA, appreciated the efforts of para-legal volunteers and other personnel involved in the campaign and said since October 2, a total of 19 lakh villages were covered under the programme.

Attorney General K K Venugopal appreciated the efforts of Justice Lalit in ensuring a successful campaign and said that he himself went to different states of the country and on one day in Ladakh and on another he was found in Kanyakumari.

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