Attacks, media trials among new threats to judiciary: CJI

Justice Ramana also said that judiciary has to be quick to adapt and be flexible to resolve any challenge that comes its way.
Justice NV Ramana

Vijayawada: Calling attention to the increasing incidents of attacks on the judiciary, Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana on Sunday underlined the need for the law enforcement agencies to deal with them effectively.

He made the remarks while delivering the fifth Late Sri Lavu Venkateswarlu Endowment Lecture.

“In recent times, physical attacks on judicial officers are on the rise. At times, there are also concerted campaigns in print and social media against judges if parties do not get a favourable order. These attacks appear to be sponsored and synchronised. The law enforcing agencies, particularly the specialised agencies, need to deal with such malicious attacks effectively. It is unfortunate that unless the Court interferes and passes orders, the authorities generally do not proceed with the investigation. The governments are expected and duty bound to create a secure environment so that the judges and judicial officers can function fearlessly,” he said.

Justice Ramana also brought the spotlight on media trials, and said that they cannot be the guiding factors for deciding cases.

“Another aspect which affects the fair functioning and independence of judiciary is the rising number of media trials. New media tools have enormous amplifying ability but appear to be incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, good and bad and the real and fake. Media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases,” he observed.

Explaining the new challenges and persistent challenges facing the judiciary, the CJI said the Constitution creates ample space for change as the country moves ahead as a democracy.

Justice Ramana also said that judiciary has to be quick to adapt and be flexible to resolve any challenge that comes its way.

Appreciating the government for appointments of several judges, the CJI debunked the claims of judges themselves appointing judges.

“It is nowadays fashionable to reiterate phrases such as, ‘judges are themselves appointing judges’. I consider this to be one of the widely propagated myths. The fact is the judiciary is merely one of the many players involved in the process. Many authorities are involved including the Union Law Ministry, State Governments, Governor, High Court Collegia, Intelligence Bureau, and lastly, the topmost executive, who all are designated to examine the suitability of a candidate. I am sad to note that the well-informed also propagate the aforesaid notion. After all, this narrative suits certain sections.”

The CJI also noted that there is no impact assessment or basic scrutiny of constitutionality before passing of legislations.

“The minimal that is expected out of the legislature while drafting laws is that they abide by settled Constitutional principles. While making laws, they must also think of providing effective remedies for issues which may arise out of the law. But these principles seemingly are being ignored.”

Citing the introduction of the Bihar Prohibition Act in 2016 as an example, the CJI said that “it resulted in the High Court being clogged with bail applications. Because of this, a simple bail application takes one year to be disposed of”.

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