Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Saturday said Indianisation of the country's legal system is the need of the hour and it is crucial to make the justice delivery system more accessible and effective. He said Courts need to be litigant-centric, and the simplification of justice delivery should be the pressing concern.
"Very often our justice delivery poses many barriers for the common people. The working and the style of courts do not sit well with the complexities of India. Our systems, practice, rules being colonial in origin, it may not be best suited to the needs of the Indian population," Justice Ramana said.
Speaking at an event organised here to pay tributes to late Supreme Court judge Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar, he said the need of the hour is the "Indianisation of our legal system."
"When I say Indianisation, I mean the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and to localise our justice delivery system. For example, parties from a rural place fighting a family dispute are usually made to feel out of place in the court; they do not understand arguments or pleadings which are mostly in English, a language alien to them," he added.
Further noting that these days judgments have become lengthy, the Chief Justice said it further complicates the position of the litigants.
"For parties to understand the implication of the judgment they are forced to spend more money. Courts need to be litigant-centric as they are the ultimate beneficiaries. The simplification of justice delivery should be our pressing concern. It is crucial to make justice delivery more transparent, accessible and effective," he said.
Justice Ramana said procedural barriers often undermine access to justice.
"A common man while approaching the court should not feel scared of judges and the courts; he should be able to speak the truth. It is the duty of lawyers and judges to create an environment which is comforting for litigants and other stakeholders," he said.
"We must not forget that the focal point of any justice system is the litigant, the justice seeker," he said, adding that "usage of alternative dispute mechanisms such as mediation and conciliation would go a long way in reducing the friction between parties and would save resources. It also reduces the pendency and requirement of having lengthy arguments and judgments."
Remembering Justice Shantanagoudar who died on April 25 at a private hospital in Gurugram, where he was admitted due to a lung infection, at the age of 62, as an "extraordinary judge", the Chief Justice said these are the topics he used to discuss with him everyday.
Expressing "deep gratitude" to Shantanagoudar's contribution to Indian Judiciary and the country's jurisprudence and for his friendship, the Chief Justice said, "in losing him the country has lost a common man's Judge. I have personally lost a most cherished friend and a valuable colleague."
Justice S Abdul Nazeer, Justice A S Bopanna, Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Justice B V Nagarathna, Acting Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Satish Chandra Sharma, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Law Minister J C Madhuswamy, several present and former judges of Supreme Court and High Court, office-bearers and members of Bar Council, among others, were present.
Late Justice Shantanagoudar's family was also present at the event.
Recalling his long association with him since a young age, Chief Minister Bommai said Shantanagoudar was a down to earth personality and called him a "common man's judge".
"He (Shantanagoudar) was a lively person, he made everyone around him lively. His simplicity, warmth and connection with the roots were really outstanding," he said.
Bommai also recalled that Shantanagoudar wanted to join politics and wanted to contest Lok Sabha polls and had held discussion with his father, former Chief Minister, the late S R Bommai, in this regard. His father advised him to continue with his legal profession as he saw a bright future for him in it, Bommai said.
Recalling his long association, Justice Nazeer said Shantanagoudar was called "Shantamurthy Shantanagoudar", and his intelligence and empathy were the guiding force behind his judgments.
Paying tributes, Justice Bopanna said, "his achievements and good deeds will continue to inspire all of us."
Whie Justice Oka remembered Shantanagoudar as a judge who spoke his mind and someone who upheld individual liberty, Justice B V Nagarathna said, as a Judge, he exhibited a great degree of compassion, statesmanship and leadership. "He truly believed that justice delayed is justice denied."
Shantanagoudar was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on February 17, 2017. He would have remained in office till May 5, 2023.
Born on May, 5, 1958, in Karnataka, Shantanagoudar got himself enrolled as an advocate on September 5, 1980. He was appointed as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court on May 12, 2003, and became a permanent judge in the court in September 2004.
Later, Justice Shantanagoudar was transferred to the Kerala High Court, where he assumed charge as the acting chief justice on August 1, 2016.
He became the chief justice of the Kerala High Court on September 22, 2016, before being elevated as an apex court judge.
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