Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday said that the current legal system is not suited to the needs of the common people as it poses “multiple barriers” for them. Asserting that the rules have a colonial origin, Chief Justice Ramana said that “Indianisation of our legal system is the need of the hour”.
“Very often our justice delivery poses multiple barriers for the common people. Our legal system needs to be more suited to the needs of common people. The current working style of the courts does not sit well with the complexities of India,” Chief Justice Ramana, said while addressing an event at the Karnataka State Bar Council in Bengaluru. The event was organised to pay tributes to late Justice Mohana M Shantanagoudar, who died in April after a prolonged illness.
“Our systems practice rules which are colonial in origin and not best suited to the needs of the Indian population. The need of the hour is the Indianisation of our legal system,” he stressed.
Indianisation, Chief Justice Ramana said, meant “the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and localise the justice delivery system.”
He highlighted that a person from a rural place fighting a family dispute is usually made to feel out of place in the court. “They do not understand the arguments and pleadings which are mostly in English. These days, judgments have become lengthy which adds further complication for the litigants who are then unable to understand the implications of a judgment. They are forced to spend more money,” Justice Ramana said.
He emphasised that the courts need to be “litigant-centric”. “It is crucial to make justice delivery more transparent and accessible and effective. Procedural barriers often undermine access to Justice. The Commonwealth should not be apprehensive. You (the public) should not feel scared of the judges and courts. You should be able to speak the truth. It is the duty of lawyers and judges to create an environment which is comforting for the litigants and other stakeholders. We must not forget that the focal point of any justice system is the litigant-the justic seeker,” he said.
Justice Ramana suggested ways to resolve such issues and added, “alternative dispute mechanisms such as mediation and reconciliation could go a long way in reducing the friction between parties and would save resources.This also reduces the pendency and requirement for having lengthy arguments with lengthy judgments.”
“The notion that ordinary people want black-robed judges, well-dressed lawyers in fine courtrooms as settings to resolve their disputes is incorrect. People with problems, like people with pains, want relief and they want it as quickly and inexpensively as possible,” he said, quoting Justice Warren Burger, the former Chief Justice of the United States.
Justice Ramana said that those are the words that judges have to understand and this is what our system requires rather than extraordinary courts.
Justice Shantanagoudar was one such Judge who understood the needs of common people, he said.
Justice Ramana expressed his gratitude for Justice Shanatangoudar’s contribution to the Indian judiciary, the country’s jurisprudence, and his friendship throughout their time together in the Supreme Court.
He also expressed his deepest condolences to Justice Shantanagoudar’s family.
Justice Shantanagoudar was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on February 17, 2017. He would have remained in office till May 5, 2023.