‘Independent and impartial judiciary must for democracy’

By Amit Anand Choudhary

NEW DELHI: The senior-most judge of the Supreme Court Justice J Chelameswar, who had along with three other senior judges recently revolted against the Chief Justice of India on allocation of cases among other things, has said that an impartial and independent judiciary is critical to the survival of liberal democracy and expressed concern over the apex court chocking with the growing load of pending cases.

Speaking at a book release function, Justice Chelameswar said those interested in improving the institution have to keep analysing the failures and achievements of the top court on a constant basis to improve its functioning.

Appreciating the efforts of scholars in analysing the working of institutions and pointing out drawbacks, the SC judge said such studies were essential for betterment of the system. Justice Chelameswar, however, refused to respond to the ongoing controversy in the SC when reporters asked him whether the issue had been sorted out with the CJI.

He said with the Constitution conferring enormous jurisdiction on the apex court, number of cases in the top court had increased over the years and it was facing a tough time to provide speedy justice. “There is a huge arrear of cases and it is impossible to clear the backlog. Sorry to say but it is not going to be cleared in our lifetime and the empirical data says so.

The problem faced by the court is real. Solution is imperative and the solution has to be found if the institution is to survive,” he said, pointing out that the number of pending cases had crossed the 55,000 figure. He said though only one sixth of the population fights cases in courts, the SC’s orders have a bearing on every citizen in some or the other.

Former attorney general Ashok Desai said judges were also to be blamed for the growing number of pendency with the court entertaining all sorts of cases including matter pertaining to pollution, cleaning of rivers. “Judges now-a-days take lot of matters which they cannot decide in out lifetime. The Supreme Court has by and large been acting as an Ombudsman and people can now approach the court for any grievance.

If you take on all disputes then the institution would become altogether different from what was envisaged,” he said.

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