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Pranab Mukherjee asks judiciary to observe self discipline

First published: May 6, 2013, 11:05 AM IST | Updated: May 6, 2013
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Pranab Mukherjee asks judiciary to observe self discipline
The President said there was a need to maintain a 'fine balance' in the role and responsibility of legislature, executive and judiciary.

Kolkata: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said there was a need to maintain a "fine balance" in the role and responsibility of legislature, executive and judiciary as the success of Parliamentary democracy depends on it.

Addressing the valedictory function of the sesquicentennial celebrations of Calcutta High Court, Mukherjee said it was the "responsibility" of the judiciary to evolve a mechanism of self-discipline to maintain this balance.

"Justice Kabir elaborated about the balance among the judiciary, the executive and the legislature. Success of Parliamentary democracy depends upon maintaining this fine balance and we shall have to ensure it," the President said at the function, which was also attended by Law Minister Ashwini Kumar and Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir.

Maintaining that the independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct, he said that it will be "disastrous" to think that either the legislature or the executive should have power to discipline the judiciary.

"It is therefore the judiciary's responsibility to itself evolve a mechanism of self-discipline so that balance can be maintained," Mukherjee said.

It was the first public gathering in the recent days where the law minister and the CJI shared dais after the controversy deepened over Kumar's meeting with the CBI Director over the status report on coalgate.

At the gathering, the law minister made a strong pitch for speedy justice and said, "delay in justice has the potential to erode the trust of our people in the judiciary process".

Pitching for speedy disposal of cases, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee observed that a justice delayed is justice denied.

The CJI, however, had a word of caution for judges holding that speedy justice should not come at the cost of wrong judgements.

He said while, for many people, the burden of arrears is a big thing, "but I have a word of caution. Please do not see disposal as your only norm. Wiping of arrears is not our only concern. It is one of our concerns. If you are disposing off cases without hearing people, you are doing injustice."

The CJI also maintained that the "rule of law is the bedrock of any democracy". He said that it is also for the administration to see that the justice, which is meted out by the court is acted upon.

Mukherjee complimented the judiciary for its "innovation" of PIL, saying it ensures that even a person sitting in the remotest corner can write a post card to the CJI and seek justice.

He also chose the occasion to express his sadness over lack of female judges in the High Courts. "I feel sad that only ten women have become judges in Calcutta High Court. There should have been much more...In the Supreme Court, you don't have many female lawyers. It is for you to decide what to do, how to redress it," he said while stressing that the judiciary "must" find out solution to issues that are "staring" at us.

The President also chose the occasion to flag the threat of "fascist forces". Citing an observation of a judge during the Nazi period, he said, "darkness does not fall immediately after night falls. There is twilight between night and darkness. This is the twilight, where we have to act if we do not want to enter the long chilling darkness".

Mukherjee is on a three-day visit of West Bengal from Monday.

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