CJI T S Thakur calls for ‘social audit’ of govt’s performance

"I have a feeling that there shall be some this kind of an audit..the social audit of the performance of the government," said T S Thakur.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu | Updated: February 28, 2016 2:57 am
Chief Justice T S Thakur Chief Justice T S Thakur

Describing enforcement of existing laws as the major challenge facing the country, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Saturday said that there needs to be some process to audit the performance of the government.

In this context, Justice Thakur referred to the delay on part of the Central government in taking decision on proposals of the Supreme Court’s collegium system regarding appointment of judges to various high courts across the country. He also referred to Jammu and Kashmir government taking ten long years only to constitute a board as provided under the law meant for regulating the employment and service condition of buildings and other construction workers in the state.

After taking over as Chief Justice of India, it was Justice Thakur’s maiden visit to his native state. He arrived in Jammu this afternoon to inaugurate a two-day workshop organized by Jammu and Kashmir State Legal Services Authority on “Workers in unorganized sector – their aspirations, challenges and way forward”.

In his inaugural address during the workshop at General Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu University here, Justice Thakur said that the ‘Buildings and Other Construction Workers Regulation of Employment and Other Services Act’ had come into force in 1996. The state government “took ten years to constitute the Board, which is its basic requirement,” he added.

Prior to 2016, “there was not even a Board to speak of enforcement or implementation of the scheme meant for welfare of people working in the unorganized sector,” he pointed out.

Expressing concern over such a situation, he referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that he is committed to repealing one law every day. “Now by that standard you will have 1700 laws repealed by the time he finishes his tenure,” he pointed out, adding that “I believe that he had already repealed some 300 laws…And another 1400 can be repealed.”

Pointing out that “those are dead letters, those are laws which have become obsolete, those are laws which are totally irrelevant with the change of time…some are old colonial laws which have no relevance today”, the Chief Justice of India said that “you repeal them with one enactment…finish them…no problem. However, the challenge is not of repealing those laws which are obsolete, but the challenge is of enforcement of those laws which are on the statue book,’’ he said.

“I don’t know…people say judiciary sometimes over reach,” he said, adding that “judicial over reach is a common refrain against us. But if this is the kind of apathy that you show towards your legal obligations…this is the kind of indifference you show towards what you are supposed to do under a mandate of the Parliament, then if the judiciary intervenes to tell you that you need to act, I wouldn’t call it overreach.”

“It is actually the protection of the right of the people for whom these laws are made that you act…It is not for any personal glorification that the courts or the judges act…it is for the enforcement of these acts,’’ he said, adding that “I think that time has come when we need to audit by some process the performance of the government.”

In this context, he told the participants at the workshop that they must have read in the newspapers today there are 450 vacancies in the high courts in the country. “450 is a large number…almost 50 per cent of the working strength of the high courts,’’ he said, adding that “high courts are running at 50 per cent of their strength.”

Attributing the delay in filling up these vacancies to the Central government’s effort to overhaul the entire system by bringing a National Judicial Commission which was struck down by the Supreme Court, Justice Thakur said that within three weeks after his receiving a letter from Union Law Minister for resumption of the process of appointment, the collegiums cleared 150 appointments to different high courts. “We did not lose time because we realized that this is a major issue and we should not be seen wanting in doing what we ought to do immediately,’’ he said.

“I can tell you today that there is not a single proposal pending with us. We have cleared all the proposals, but it is a different issue that the percentage of casualty has been very high because we have raised the bar higher,’’ he said.

Pointing out that almost 50 per cent of the proposals coming to the Supreme Court collegiums had been turned down as it did not find them upto the mark. He said “The 50 per cent that have been cleared are languishing with the government for the past two months.”

“Now in a system where judiciary is working at half the strength…people are crying for justice…people are languishing in jails; chief justice of the high court and two senior most judges have considered a person to be suitable, it has gone through the chief minister and the governor, it has reached the law ministry…it has gone through the scrutiny of the IB and all other scrutiny…it has come to the Supreme Court collegiums and chief justice of india and two senior most judeges have seen the proposals, removed the unwanted and the undeserving and sent up only the most deserving of the candidates…why should government be sitting over the proposals is something that I cannot understand,’’ he said.

“I think there needs to be some mechanism and if we were do it on the judicial side, it is of course open to us…we can do it on judicial side also, but I think sometimes more important than the judicial side is the voice of the people,’’ he said.

“I have a feeling that there shall be some this kind of an audit..the social audit of the performance of the government, whether it is government of Jammu and Kashmir who, when it comes to establishing a board it takes ten years to establish, or whether it is Government of India where it takes its own sweet will, its own sweet time to clear proposals that have been submitted to it,’’ Justice Thakur said.

“I think there needs to be awareness…the intelligentsia must respond to it and react to it because unless the society, the intelligentsia responds to it then there is no use expecting us to do something on the administrative side and then take it up on the judicial side to enforce the recommendations,’’ he added.

He also referred to apex court’s evolving schemes for welfare of various sections of society by organizing discussions and seminars, he said, “We discussed issues relating to tribal rights. We had the entire North-East in its outlook and in its historical perspective and also the tribals of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.” “There are major issues where you see today problems of Maoism and all they had a revolt against denial of basic rights to these people have not yet been given, which means that this is a major major issue for not only those areas, but for the whole country. We discussed that and we evolved a scheme,’’ he added.

He also referred to non-utilization of thousands of crores collected as tax by state governments for the welfare of the unorganized sector. “I am sure in Punjab, it is Rs 1500 crore…in Karnatka it is 3000 crore and invested in a fixed deposit,’’ he said, adding that “it is not meant to be there in the fixed deposit.”

In Jammu Kashmir, it is Rs 300 crore…it is not a small amount, he said, adding that unfortunately, this money collected for implementing the scheme for unorganized sector is lying unutilized.

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  1. S
    Feb 28, 2016 at 4:23 am
    Good initiative... Government of the day must be accountable
    1. A
      Feb 28, 2016 at 4:07 am
      This shows that there are still people who are real watch dogs of our democracy and not look forward for plum post after retirement by doing favours.
      1. B
        Balasubramanian Balasubramanian
        Aug 27, 2016 at 1:25 pm
        Retrospectively from 1956?
        1. C
          C J
          Apr 25, 2016 at 8:32 am
          Mr CJI, please come and sit with me in any courtroom of your choice in India - incognito - and you will never stop crying seeing/hearing how justice is murdered everyday. People in glhouses should not throw stones !
          1. T
            Feb 28, 2016 at 4:18 am
            How dare you challenge Modi? Take cognizance and charge yourselves with sedition. Order protection for you and get attacked by Laywers. Make a fool out of yourselves.
            1. G
              Feb 28, 2016 at 3:48 am
              Presently proper audit of courts functioning is quite important. Sitting at top of supreme court and giving all these lectures is easy. please come down and see how people suffers at lower courts and how they are full of corruption, then u will c that courts audit is most urgently required and functioning of courts has to be revamped totally.
              1. R
                Ravi Goenka
                Feb 28, 2016 at 7:05 am
                My Lord, may I humbly suggest that you first look within and carry out an audit of the Judiciary. You might just be woken up from your deep slumber.
                1. G
                  Feb 28, 2016 at 6:48 am
                  Let CJI focus on delivery quality judgements, rather than focussing on what government is doing. People of India will take care of the government every 5 years. It is time Judiciary understand that they are bound by Indian consution and not behave like feudal lords
                  1. S
                    Swaminatha Sundaram
                    Feb 28, 2016 at 1:32 am
                    we should have an ethics audit of the judiciary too.-to see how far they actually uphold the principles of justice.
                    1. A
                      Feb 28, 2016 at 6:27 am
                      Slowly but surely Indian Judiciary is evolving it self as a " state within state " , similar to what the status of stani Army is in stan . Like Pak army, they are special and some rules are not applied to them as the judiciary itself decided that these rules do not apply to themselves, e.g. RTI act. They can interfere and decides on any matter they think is important . They can create laws, invent and order any way they want. e.g. The waiver of death penalty to some , abolition of NJAC, not attending the duty in a meeting of legally consuted NJAC at their whims. Another example is the forming of collegium system. Its unique in the total Universe. There are no parallel even in dictatorship . Why we cant have first a social audit of Judiciary ?
                      1. S
                        S Subramaniam
                        Feb 28, 2016 at 2:47 am
                        There is a general impression in the minds of common man about the pendency of outstanding cases in Civil Cours. I would therefore suggest that the details of "number of cases filed in a Court, disposed off, outstanding, oldest date, reasons for delay" for the entire Country Civil Court Wise and State/UT wise shoud be made available and action taken for its disposal.
                        1. N
                          Nagar Iyer
                          Feb 28, 2016 at 5:02 am
                          [After the NDA has taken over from the corrupt UPA, Corruption at the CABINET LEVEL has ceased totally. Can the Chief Justice claim so of his SC and the HCs? ] [When the courts function, they do not have to face hindrances on a daily basis like the Governments do. So the Chief Justice is expected to do something to clear the BACKLOGs than criticizing the Government. ]
                          1. R
                            Feb 28, 2016 at 4:46 am
                            1. R
                              Feb 28, 2016 at 4:15 am
                              My sincere opinion is there should be periodical social audits on the performance of courts is much more necessary than for government because at least there is a mechanism of election to overthrow the unsatisfactory government. but where is the check on judiciary. See the judge kumara samy's simple totalling mistake which lead to the w reversal of judgement of a high profile case. How to avoid these bers?
                              1. S
                                Sudhakar Ravuri
                                Feb 28, 2016 at 5:47 am
                                People of India do the 'social audit' every 5 years. Only insution that is not accountable or open to audit is Judiciary. I hope CJI spares some thought on that matter.
                                1. S
                                  Jun 6, 2016 at 6:22 pm
                                  Can people of India really do anything in 5 years? Mr Gopal, think about Haryana as an example, where all people other than Jats are against reservation for Jats. However, govt agreed for reservation which was uncalled for logically. It was Judiciary which had to interfere. Govt never thinks about no-vote bank people. Judiciary aligns govt to think about them.
                                  1. S
                                    Feb 28, 2016 at 5:52 am
                                    I have a few questions to the CJI: 1. Would he support a social audit of the judiciary's performance? 2. Any amount of twisting facts will not conceal the fact of the Judiciary's overreach. The judiciary is absoutely guilty of a mive power grab in twisting the consution to create the collegium system, and is guilty of immorally preserving power against the will of the people by rejecting the NJAC. 3. The judiciary can be observed to be taking populist stances every single day, while escaping any accountability. Directing the executive to do this, that etc. can appear very por, but is not the judiciary's role. For example, the decision to ban diesel SUVs over a certain capacity has no impact on the enviornment, and justifying it in language of socialism is what you expect of politicans (who are elected to make such value choices) and not the juidiciary. While the court is happy to pronounce policy decisions, will it take any responsibility for the lack of improvement in Delhi's environment indicators and resign if there is still no improvement?
                                    1. S
                                      Feb 28, 2016 at 6:04 am
                                      Mr. Ramaswamy, i agree with your points, with some extra comments: As you may know, most people suspect that the totalling mistakes on the high profile case that you refer too was not a mistake. More to the point, how can a court/judge continue without any adverse effect to his career and job after making this mistake, that too in a "high profile case". In any other profession, you would have been disbarred.
                                      1. S
                                        Feb 29, 2016 at 6:59 pm
                                        Mr. CJI, you are absolutely right. The Govt of India needs to be audited!
                                        1. V
                                          Feb 28, 2016 at 3:31 am
                                          Atleast govt goes to polls every 5 years. That audit is already there. We need audit of courts. They have all these backlog. now blaming on vacancy of judges due collegium and govt taking sometime. Those back logs were there in the past and languishing. You don't even want govt to write a law like NJAC that has rare bipartisan support. You want collegium system that's unconsutional. Where is your audit?
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