The integrity of the bar is important to maintain the independence of the judiciary, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde said in his maiden public address on Thursday.
“If the bar loses its integrity, it would have an enormous repercussion on the workings of the judiciary,” CJI Bobde said. He was speaking at an event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) in his honour.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the credibility of the bar is maintained. And it will be maintained only if members of the bar continue to act freely, diligently, and fearlessly in promoting the legitimate interests of their clients…” he said.
CJI Bobde also said exorbitant fee charged by senior advocates is a matter of concern. He said that judicial independence also includes “people’s access to independent and affordable advocacy and assistance from lawyers”.
He also said that the judiciary must harness technology in providing more efficient and cost-effective access to delivery of justice. “This must also include undertaking serious study concerning future of artificial intelligence in law, especially how it can assist in judicial decision making,” he said.
The CJI also expressed concern on the mental health of legal professionals. “… Efforts in this direction must attempt both de-stigmatisation of this idea and making available professional help, where necessary,” he said.
Attorney General of India K K Venugopal, who also spoke at the event, batted for increasing the age of retirement for judges of the higher judiciary. “Both High Court and Supreme Court judges must retire at 70. The collegium must also try to appoint judges to ensure CJIs have at least a tenure of 3 years,” he said.