New Delhi: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday pressed for early clearance of the names recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary, saying he is seeking the government’s “cooperation and support” to facilitate equal access to justice and strengthen democracy.
Justice Ramana, who has been actively recommending names for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary after assuming charge as the CJI on April 24, said the collegium has recommended 106 names for high court judges since May, and clearing them would take care of pendency of cases to “some extent”.
Speaking at an event here, the CJI referred to the assurance given by union law minister Kiren Rijiju and said: “The government has cleared some of them (names for judgeship) and the Hon’ble Law Minister has assured that the rest of the things will come in one or two days. I thank the government for clearing these vacancies and giving quick access to justice to the people”.
The CJI also noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has “exposed some deep-rooted problems” in the judiciary and underscored the need to ensure equal access to justice, especially to vulnerable sections.
“My companion judges and I have attempted to enable litigants to get faster justice. I want to state that, since May onwards, my team so far has recommended the appointment of 106 Judges and nine new Chief Justices to various High Courts.
“The government has cleared seven names out of the 106 judges and one out of the nine for chief justices, so far. I expect that the government will clear the rest of the names very soon. These appointments will take care of pendency to some extent. I seek the cooperation and support of the Government to enable access to justice and to strengthen democracy,” he said.
The CJI, who is also the Patron-in-chief of the National Legal Services Authority, was speaking at the launch of the six-week-long ‘The Pan India Legal Awareness and Outreach Campaign’ by NALSA at Vigyan Bhavan that was inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
“For a healthy democracy, a vibrant judiciary is essential. Covid-19 has created many problems for many institutions including the judiciary.
Thousands of cases have accumulated in different fora.
“Apart from large vacancies, the non-working of courts and lack of virtual conferencing facilities in rural areas, the pandemic has exposed some deep-rooted problems,” the CJI said.
The constitutional guarantee of equal justice will be rendered meaningless if vulnerable sections cannot enforce their rights, the CJI said, adding that sustainable and inclusive growth cannot be achieved without providing “inclusive access to justice” especially to the poor.
The framers of our Constitution were well aware of socio-economic reality and therefore, they envisaged a welfare state where no one is denied basic needs of life, he said.
“In order to protect the aforesaid rights, the framers accorded us all, the equal protection and equality before law. But this guarantee of equal justice will be rendered meaningless if the vulnerable sections cannot enforce their rights,” he said.
Equality and “access to justice” complement each other and in countries with major socio-economic gaps, unequal access to justice leads to widening of these divides, he said. —PTI