PITCHING for a strong and independent judiciary, Supreme Court Justice Jasti Chelameswar on Saturday called upon members of the Bar to play their role when imbalance sets in between judiciary and executive, following the latter’s exercise of “excessive control” over the former.
Speaking at the N L Belekar Memorial Lecture on ‘Rule of Law and Role of Bar’, organised by the Nagpur High Court Bar Association, Chelameswar said: “The executive, with support of majority of legislators, has a great role to play in appointments in judiciary and thereby, exercise a little bit of control. The control varies with the executive in command. Some executive will exercise little control but when it becomes excessive, it poses a constant threat to the independence of judiciary.”
“The Bar has a role to play here by remaining vigilant and critically examine the role of executive when the attack comes in innumerable forms and also examine the bench’s role. The Bar must be well informed in the philosophy of the Constitution in such times,” he added.
“Remove the system of judicial scrutiny (of government actions)… and all forms of government will exercise their power… and power, be it in any hands, not just of the executive, has a tendency to corrupt.” Chelameswar also called upon lawyers to critically examine if and how they are responsible for protraction of justice delivery.
Giving the example from Assam, where he has served as chief justice, Chelameswar said: “I had found that the police were dealing in civil cases on a huge scale. A SP had told me that his staff is poorly trained and is mostly on bandobast duties, resulting in piling up of cases and poor conviction rate. But why are the people going to the police? Because people were not inclined to approach the judiciary due to large pendency and protraction of cases. It is here also that the bar has a prominent role to play.”
“I would not put it in terms of big ideas like nation. I would simply put it this way… if we want our grandchildren to stay in this country with dignity, then we must protect, preserve and strengthen judiciary. If the judiciary is not strong, independent, responsive and efficient, then nobody is safe,” he added.