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The Supreme Court's Justice MR Shah recently delivered a lecture on the topic 'Challenges faced by the Indian Judiciary' at Gujarat National Law University (GNLU). The event was organised under the aegis of the GNLU-Navinchandra Desai Law Foundation Chair.
In his address, Justice Shah said that one of the main challenges faced by the Indian Judiciary is the issue of speedy justice. At the same time, it has to be ensured that the faith of the people in the judicial system is not shaken, he noted.
Justice Shah further stated that unwarranted delays in the dispensation of justice may result in emergence of criminal syndicates and mob justice because of loss of confidence in the constitutional mechanism of the country. In this regard, he stated,
“People have put and reposed faith in the courts, judiciary and the justice delivery system. Today, people have faith and trust mainly/only in the judiciary. They come with high hopes. They come to the court considering the court as a “Temple of Justice”. Therefore, it is the duty of the judiciary to rise to the occasion and see to it that the faith and trust of the people in the judiciary are not shaken.”
Justice MR Shah at GNLU
Justice Shah said that while it is said that “Justice denied is justice delayed”, it is equally true that “Justice hurried is justice buried”. Therefore, the judiciary has to strike a balance between the two. He said that citizens are justified in expecting speedy justice. But, at the same time, the judiciary is required to follow the due procedure of law, as no person can be punished without a fair trial.
Citing pendency of cases as another one of the challenges of the Indian judicial system, Justice Shah said,
“If the vacancies are filled, pendency would go down and make justice delivery system efficient. The budget allocation for the judiciary is just 0.2 per cent of the GDP. The Judge-population ratio is 10.5/11 to one million, which should be at least 50-55 to one million.”
Another challenge before the Indian judiciary is access to justice for citizens at a lower cost, Justice Shah noted. He said that unfortunately, litigation was becoming more expensive, making it very difficult for the poor to go to court. He also shed light on the notion that in the present justice delivery system, the rich can easily afford expensive lawyers and change the course of the dispensation of justice in their favour.
Justice Shah also pointed out that huge vacancies in courts, deficient court infrastructure, unfavorable working conditions in court, heavy pendency of cases and relatively low disposal rates, among other issues, still pose major challenges to the justice delivery system.
The Supreme Court judge congratulated the GNLU alumni who were recently recruited as judges. He said,
“I am told that this year, 23 students of GNLU are selected as judges and till date, GNLU has contributed nearly 100 judges to the judiciary in different states in the country."
As a word of advice to the newly-appointed judges, Justice Shah stated,
“You should be thankful that God has given you this opportunity to serve as a judge. The duty of a judge is a pious duty…. God has selected you and has reposed trust and faith in you. Therefore, it is your bounden duty to see that there is no breach of trust and faith reposed by God. Therefore, you are required to perform your duty with all commitment and without fear or favour."
The event was attended by many reputed dignitaries in the legal field such as former Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Justice Mohit Shah; Justices RM Chhaya and AJ Shastri of the Gujarat High Court; Principal District Judge at Gandhinagar, Dinesh Vora; Legal Secretary of the Government of Gujarat, DM Vyas; and several other Advocates.