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Focus on pendency of cases rather than appeal courts: Govt. to SC

  •  Days after Chief Justice of India T.S Thakur turned emotional after addressing a meeting, it looks like the government didn't see much substance in those tears. The government, in a letter, stated that the SC's suggestion of setting up National Courts of Appeal (NCA) was unconstitutional and rather than focusing on such issues, it should focus on clearing up the cases still pending in the courts.

    T.S Thakur, in his speech turned emotional in an attempt to ask the government to increase the number of judges in the courts of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present at the meeting. T.S Thakur said, "You cannot shift the entire burden on the judiciary. ...And therefore, it is not only in the name of a litigant or people languishing in jails but also in the name of development of the country, its progress that I beseech you to rise to the occasion and realize that it is not enough to criticize. You cannot shift the entire burden on the judiciary,"

    Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who had earlier termed NCAs as neither "desirable nor feasible", questioned the intention of the SC of setting up the NCA, as it was neither sanctioned by the law neither is it mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. Replying to the letter and the remark by the AG, the SC expressed disbelief as to why the government was not even ready for an open debate on the setting up of these courts of appeal. The AG replied to this question by saying that the Constitution has provided enough means for the judiciary to tackle the cases at hand and nowhere is the appeals court mentioned in those provisions.

    "The court's dockets are full and there is a lot of pendency. The Supreme Court should not take up such issues as its dockets are full. Setting up of NCA would only mean creating another forum for lawyers. The Supreme Court should concentrate on speeding up justice delivery at the lowest level where more than two crore cases are pending. That requires attention. We don't' require NCAs. Can it do anything to lessen the pendency burden?" the AG asked.

    A bench of Justices Thakur, R Bhanumathi and U U Lalit later clarified their stand on the topic, saying that the judiciary would not impose the setting up of the NCA's on the government. It would always be open to debate though. "We want to refer the issue to a Constitution bench after chalking out the parameters within which the debate can take place. We are neither issuing a direction nor asking the government to amend the Constitution. Do not stand against it making it a prestige issue," the CJI said. "We, like you (the government), are also for reforms. The debate started by you got shelved because of other reasons," he said, possibly referring to the government's effort to bring in the National Judicial Appointments Commission for selection of judges.

    OUR TAKE

    Both the judiciary and the legislative are the strong pillars on which the functioning of the country depends on. Friction between the two is not a pretty news for India. The government should at least keep all its options open and should not discard the suggestions of the SC in such a haste. If the judiciary has suggested such a thing as an NCA, what is the harm in listening the idea out. As it is, the tables of the SC judges are messed up with a million cases. On one hand, the government is asking the judiciary to mind its own problems, but on the other hand, it is not ready to facilitate any help towards the successful tackling of the problem. The tears of the CJI should not go in vain. The government should act more open-minded in this regard and should be in the know of the fact that the Constitution is not made in such a manner that it cannot be amended. If the matter calls for it, reform should be carried out.

     


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