New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind Tuesday termed the delay in deciding cases as a "hurdle" in the way of delivering justice and called for "detailed deliberations and systemic efforts" for clearing the bottleneck of pendency.
Speaking at the 70th Constitution Day celebrations at the Supreme Court, he hailed the efforts undertaken by the apex court in providing the judgements in nine regional languages. "Happy that the Supreme Court has followed up my suggestion and started making its judgments available in nine regional languages. In the days to come, the list can include more languages, so that common people can read the verdicts of the highest court," Kovind said.
On the issue of making justice accessible to all, he said that there has to be "collective effort" of all the stakeholders including the bench and the bar. "Another hurdle in the way of justice is the delay and the resulting backlog. Clearing this bottleneck requires detailed deliberations and systemic efforts," Kovind said.
Chief Justice of India S A Bobde stressed the use of artificial intelligence in dealing with problems faced by the judiciary. Bobde said the Constitution does not belong to individuals in black robes, be it lawyers or judges, or governments, but it belongs to all.
The Constitution is not only meant to be an effective check on the state's powers but also meant to deal as to how the citizens treat each other, he said. The CJI called for concerted efforts in settling disputes in efficient and speedy manner.
He also said that there was a need to "free up" the mind space for judges and lawyers so that they can contribute efficiently to the justice delivery system and stressed on the need of bigger role for artificial intelligence in judiciary.
Justice Bobde also referred to the challenges and issues plaguing the lower judiciary especially lack of infrastructure and vacancies and said "our job remains unfinished" till access of justice is available to all.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad referred to the recent historic judgement of the apex court in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case and termed it signified "assimilating" and "integrating" tendency of Indian civilisation.
Dealing with the public debates on the contentious Ayodhya issue, Prasad said, "the right to faith is also a fundamental right under the Constitution" and the apex court in its judgement has eloquently dealt with the competing interests and right to faith of followers of two different religions.
He also referred to the fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution and said that citizens should be made aware of their duties as there cannot be any right without a duty.
"The rights and duties both go together," Prasad said, adding that the constitutional framers were sure about preserving the cultural heritage of the country.
He referred to the paintings made by famous painter Nandalal Bose in the original Constitution and said that it contained the pictures of Akbar, not Babur. Attorney General K K Venugopal raised the issue of creating four appellate courts, above high courts, in four different regions of the country and said that the apex court should only be dealing with the important constitutional issues.
He said the decisions of the appellate courts should be made final and the judges can be appointed in the same manner as done for the apex court and this will herald a new era in the history of the highest court of the country.
Highlighting the need for IT, Kovind said that information and communication technology can bring about amazing results to clear backlog of cases. He also paid homage to 15 women members of the Constituent Assembly including Sarojini Naidu, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Hansaben Jivraj Mehta, Sucheta Kripalani and G Durgabai, who spoke of equal rights for one and all, when women in many parts of the world were denied basic rights.
"The nation will always remain grateful to all the members and office-bearers of the Constituent Assembly, particularly its President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, and the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, who is rightly known as the architect of the Constitution," Kovind said.
He said the "founding fathers" created institutions and designed the right balance among them to ensure that their core objectives are not compromised. "The co-existence of our fully independent judiciary with a vibrant parliamentary democracy is a testimony to their sagacity and foresight," he said.
The apex court also launched its official mobile application and a translation software SUVAS (Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software) which translates judgments in nine Indian languages.
Apex court judges N V Ramana and Arun Mishra and Supreme Court Bar Association president Rakesh Khanna also spoke on the occasion and hailed the constitution framers for their contribution.