Justice Deepak Gupta webinar
Justice Deepak Gupta webinar

Problem with SC is that it is a Chief Justice-centric Court: Justice (retd.) Deepak Gupta speaks on importance of case management and more

The former Supreme Court judge made to comment while speaking on the importance of court case management, in response to a query over whether there is a need for administrative reform in the Supreme Court.

Rintu Mariam Biju

In a webinar hosted by Law Firm Link Legal India Law Services, Former Supreme Court judge, Justice (retd.) Deepak Gupta articulated his views on various topics such as legal education, evaluation of Judges, live streaming of cases, specialization in law and mental health of lawyers.

The Session was in the form of Q&A, which was moderated by Atul Sharma, Managing Partner, Link Legal.

When asked whether any administrative reform was required for the Apex Court in order to hear cases of public importance rather than hearing cases pertaining to individual rights, Justice (retd.) Gupta was prompted to observe that the Supreme Court is overburdened with cases.

This is partly the fault of judges, he said, "as we entertain petitions that have no business before the Court."

In this backdrop, he went on to observe, "That brings me to the another aspect, how do you manage the Supreme Court Registry?"

He went on to observe,

"I feel that Court management is a very important part of the Judge's curriculum, especially for the senior Judges. The problem with the Supreme Court is that it is a very Chief Justice-centric Court. Moreover, Judges don't have a very long tenure. It is very registry-driven Court. Even the secretary generals and registrars who are drawn from other states, have different systems", Justice Gupta said.

To resolve this issue, he recalled that he had earlier suggested in writing that a Committee should be constituted comprising five senior-most Judges outside the Collegium, who would have the longest tenure.

"This committee should have a long term tenure amd decide as to how the Registry should function, which cases should be prioritized, which case to be marked to which Benches. Obviously the Chief Justice will be the master of the roster. But after the roster has been fixed, how it should work should be decided by the committee. It should work on a random computerised basis with minimum human intervention. It should be a transparent system but with as little human interface as possible."

Gupta J. on how to improve Court case management

Other issues touched upon included the senstive topic of live streaming cases. Justice (retd.) Gupta opined,

"I am for live streaming of cases because Courts have to be transparent and open. When I was a student, I could walk into the Supreme Court and attend a hearing without getting a pass made. Today, we can watch the proceedings of the UK Supreme Court live-streamed."

He went on to observe, "As far as the present situation is concerned, many cases are being done through video conference mode. That has its limitations, you can't decide a Consitutional matter or record evidence via video conference hearing. A criminal trial cannot be done by video conferencing."

He added,

"Though virtual hearing has its own benefits and can be used as a tool, it cannot replace open Courts as such."
Justice (retd.) Deepak Gupta

On the topic of specialization in law in the initial years by lawyers, Justice Gupta suggested that every lawyer needs to have a broad-based practise during their initial years, after which they could specialize in their respective areas of interest.

He added that the branches of law are inter-related and that only a general practise would help lawyers to have a better understanding of the nuances of these branches.

"Too much specialization in the beginning doesn't make you an all-rounded lawyer... At least 10 years should be spent in all branches of law."
Justice (retd.) Deepak Gupta

The Former Supreme Court Judge also expressed that evaluation of Judges is a very necessary process. In this regard, he noted that though District Court Judges across the country are evaluated, the same was not being done for judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

However, Justice (retd.) Gupta clarified that Judges should not be assessed on the number of judgments that he/she has delivered. Rather, he opined that they should be evaluated on some criteria which would balance the credibility, transparency, integrity, competence of the Judge along with the quality of Judgments.

The former judge also made pertinent observations on the importance of mental health of lawyers, observing that,

"I am of the view that one needs to have atleast two/ three interests outside law. When Law is your profession, you need to know many other things. Law is a very stressful profession. When the client pays you fees, he passes on his stress to you as well. Therefore, you need to have some interest outside law. I would also suggest that one of the interests should be physical activity."

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