New Delhi: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu yesterday called for immediate and collective efforts by all stakeholders – the government, bar and the bench – to reduce the heavy pendency of court cases in the country. Delivering the Virendra Bhatia Memorial Lecture on Pillars of Democracy in New Delhi on 8 December, the Vice President said, “There can not be instant justice but there can not be constant delays either.” Otherwise people become restive and try to take law into their own hands, he added.
To make judicial process more people-friendly, Naidu called for undertaking court proceedings in local languages so that people can understand it.
He also suggested that Supreme Court should have 2-3 benches across India. “No constitutional amendment is required for such a move,” he said, adding that currently people have to come to Delhi from all over India to file their cases. “They have to stay for many days in Delhi and it is expensive,” Naidu added.
The Vice President opined that there is a need to decide upon the certain category of cases in time-bound manner such as the election petitions and criminal cases against sitting MPs and MLAs.
Naidu called upon the presiding officers of legislative bodies to decide upon the disqualification proceedings under anti-defection law in a time-bound manner. “Judiciary should also give priority to such cases,” he stressed.
The VP expressed concerns that any delays in justice delivery in such cases erode public confidence in the judicial and legislative bodies.
Naidu said that an efficient, transparent, accessible and affordable judicial system is a key touchstone of good governance. It can improve ease of business as well as ease of living, he said, adding that it instills confidence in the government.
Commenting on the functioning of the legislature, the VP Naidu said that a general perception is building up that the quality of debates in the Parliament and the State legislature has been declining.
He appealed to everyone in the legislature to introspect to make constructive contributions for the welfare of society. “There is a right to protest in a democracy, but not for obstructionism,” Naidu added.
The VP asked the executive to give priority to the oppressed and to those living on the margins of society. People should be actively involved in not only drafting of various schemes and programs but also in their implementation, he remarked.
Mentioning the four pillars of democracy – the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Press – Naidu said that each pillar must act within its domain but not lose sight of the larger picture.
“The strength of a democracy depends upon the strength of each pillar and the way pillars complement each other. Any shaky pillars weaken the democratic structure,” the Vice President said.
Naidu also stressed the need to bridge the many divides in society by establishing an effective mechanism for every organ of governance to perform to the best of it’s abilities. Improving the quality of life of people and translating Swarajya into Surajya must be our focus, he said.
Recalling Virendra Bhatia’s contributions to the nation as a practising lawyer, and as a member of Rajya Sabha, Naidu said Bhatia had the rare distinction of holding all three important posts in the State of Uttar Pradesh – Advocate General of UP, Chairman Bar Council of UP, and the President of the High Court Oudh Bar Association on four occasions.
Justice Ashok Bhushan, Supreme Court of India; noted lawyer Soli Sorabjee; Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court, Rakesh Dwivedi and Gaurav Bhatia were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
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