Sanity must not fall prey to judicial reforms: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said while the national outrage over the December 16,2012 gangrape of a young girl in Delhi

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: April 8, 2013 2:13 am

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said while the national outrage over the December 16,2012 gangrape of a young girl in Delhi compelled an “urgent introspection” about the country’s laws and justice delivery system,the country should not “be overcome by a sense of despair at some of the demonstrated inadequacies of our legal system”.

Addressing the conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices,Singh said though the government moved expeditiously to respond to the felt sensitivities of the people in the aftermath of the gangrape,including bringing about “significant amendments” in the criminal law to effectively deal with heinous offences against women,a “great deal more needs to be done as far as offences against women are concerned”.

He,however,cautioned that the voice of sanity and logic should not become a prey to momentary impulses amid growing demand for judicial reforms. “At a time when the demand for judicial reforms and change in the legal processes has acquired a new urgency,we must ensure that the voice of sanity and logic is not suborned to the momentary impulses of the day,” Singh said.

He said,“Fundamental and time tested principles of law and natural justice must not be compromised to satiate the shrill rhetoric that often defines our political discourse and sometimes succeeds in drowning appeals to logic and justice.”

Saying that he agreed with Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir’s statement that there was a need to significantly enhance the number of judges,Singh asked the Chief Ministers to take the initiative in this regard.

He also termed as “grossly inadequate” the current judge-to-population ratio,assuring the states of more central funds for creation of infrastructure for subordinate judiciary to address the issue of pendency of over three crore cases.

“The judge to population ratio at the current level of 15.5 judges per million is indeed grossly inadequate. We need to alter this equation so as to address the problems of pendency and delays in disposal of cases…. On behalf of the central government,I would like to assure this august gathering that we would increase appropriately the quantum of funding for the scheme under which we provide support to the state governments for creation of infrastructure for subordinate judiciary,” the Prime Minister said.

Referring to the long-pending proposal for constitution of the All India Judicial Services,the Prime Minister said there had been some progress since it was discussed for the first time in the conference of 2009. “I learn that the subject will be considered in this conference. I hope that in the deliberations that follow a consensus will emerge on the way forward,” he said.

He also said the government would “engage with the 14th Finance Commission for devolution of funds” to the states for the judicial sector. “In addition,we will request the commission to earmark funds for establishing fast-track courts for speedy trials not just in cases involving heinous crimes but also those in which offences have been committed against the vulnerable people like the elderly,women and children,” he added.

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