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Constitution not static, constantly evolving to meet new social realities: CJI DY Chandrachud at SCBA's Constitution Day event

09:44 PM Nov 25, 2022 IST | India Legal
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Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on Friday said the Constitution was constantly evolving to meet the new social realities of the time. 

Speaking at the event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on the eve of Constitution Day, the CJI said November 26, 1959 was an important day because it was on this day, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution, adding that the process of nation-building was a constantly evolving task.

He said there was a dialogue regularly taking place in the courts, between the Judges and lawyers, which defined how the essential values unfolded in the Constitution, including the values of dignity and the sense of fraternity. Both the Bar and the Bench were equal stakeholders in the process that went in the courts, added Justice Chandrachud.

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He said no case was too small or too large for the Judges because ultimately, the legal principles were applied to every case, whether small or large.

As per the CJI, everyone has the text of the Constitution, even the judges had their own interpretation of the Constitution, while there was also the citizen’s engagement with the Constitution.

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He said as administrators, it was the duty of Judges to speedily dispose of the cases. 

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Justice Chandrachud said he was trying to ensure that defects were notified to Advocates on the same day. 

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He said he believed that every judge of the Supreme Court brought with him, a great and wide experience – as lawyers, members of district judiciary and Chief Justices of High Courts.

The CJI further said that the confidence of citizens in the judicial process depended on how efficient the Judges were. For the citizen, it mattered whether the case was heard by the court or not, besides the time it took.

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He said that the Supreme Court was, nowadays, verifying 200 matters per day.
‘As judges we come and occupy these offices for the terms granted by constitution, but we never believe that we stand apart from the bar. And the bar never believes that it stands apart from the citizens,’ the CJI said.

Senior Advocate Ashok Bhan CJI DY Chandrachud SCBA
Senior Advocate Ashok Bhan being felicitated by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud in the presence of (from left) Attorney General R. Venkataramani, SCBA President Vikas Singh and SCBA Vice President Pradeep Rai.

He disclosed that on November 20, every member of the listing department stayed back on a Sunday to clear the arrears of matters. In the past five days, the Registry has verified 982 matters. This has ensured that the time required to notify defects has been reduced from nine to just two days, the CJI said.

‘Currently, as on 5 pm today, we do not have any matter filed prior to November 24, for which defects have to be verified,’ he added.

Appreciating the role played by the Bar at all levels, the CJI said while celebrating the Constitution Day, everyone should remain conscious of the history prior to the adoption of the Constitution. 

Talking about the dress code, he said the legal profession must shed its colonial underpinnings. ‘In a country like India, where we experience extreme heat waves during summers as a result of climate change, we must reconsider the strict dress code for lawyers, at least for summer months.’ 

Stating that the legal profession was often described a noble profession, the CJI said that it should not turn into an elitist one, adding that the culture of dialogue must always be there. 

He said during the writing of a judgment, a dialogue ensures between the Bar and the Bench. As per Justice Chandrachud, members of Bar brought novel submissions on the Constitution. In the past 75 years, the contribution of Bar to the evolution of the jurisprudence has been enormous, he added.

Speaking on evolving the curriculum of law schools, the CJI said it would enable the facilitation of Law students in the legal system. Stating that this practice can be institutionalised, Justice Chandrachud said he was open to a dialogue on the same.

He suggested the SCBA to consider organising training sessions within the E-committee for members of the Bar, so as to acquaint them with new processes, as the world marched towards the era of e-governance and online courts.

The CJI urged the senior members of the Bar to take some pro bono cases of poor litigants every year, saying that public interest did not lie only in filing PILs, but also in ensuring that the citizens had smooth access to justice.

Justice Chandrachud also talked about thousands of trial court lawyers, who worked without social security, saying that the Covid-19 pandemic showed the world the harsh reality when they soldiered on.

The CJI urged the senior members of the Bar to take some pro bono cases of poor litigants every year, saying that public interest did not lie only in filing PILs, but also in ensuring that the citizens had smooth access to justice.

Justice Chandrachud also talked about thousands of trial court lawyers, who worked without social security, saying that the Covid-19 pandemic showed the world the harsh reality when they soldiered on.

As per the CJI, the strictness of attire should not lead to moral policing of women lawyers.

Justice Chandrachud revealed that he was mulling of having an online remote access to the judge’s library database, so that the law clerks could easily access resources.

Calling the academicians as members of the legal fraternity, the CJI said he was considering to set up an annual Supreme Court of India lecture series on January 28 every year, on it was on January 28, 1950 that the Supreme Court came into being.

Talking about the Judiciary, the CJI said that no institution in a democracy was perfect, but the legal fraternity worked within the existing framework of the Constitution, as interpreted and given to them.

He said all Judges of the collegium including him, were faithful soldiers, who implemented the Constitution. Talking about imperfections, the solution lies in working out the way within the existing system.

As per the CJI, becoming a judge was a call of conscience. Getting good people to become judges was first and foremost about inculcating upon the minds of young members of the bar about the limitless ability, which lied in the power of every Judge to give a good society.

He said people became Judges for a sense of said in order to get good people within the system, it was important to mentor young people by giving them the ability to become Judges.the answer lies somewhere elsemmitment to public services.

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju highlighted that funds released for judicial infrastructure in the district judiciary and the High Courts were not being properly utilised. He said the Supreme Court couldn’t interfere in such matters while it can review orders. On the collegium issue, Rjiju said both the Executive and the Judiciary are born from the Constitution and should resolve thorny issues by working together, and not by fighting.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Vice-President  and Senior Advocate Pradeep Rai, who welcomed Chief Justice Chandrachud and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, said the judiciary has been the protector of the Constitution. It has upheld its integrity and has been totally independent.

Senior Advocate Rai dwelt on the lacunae in judicial infrastructure and hoped that they are all solved soon. He said India needs honest men who place their country before their interests. On the vacancies in the judiciary, Rai requested Law Minister Rijiju that they be filled soon. He said that in developed nations, there are 100 judges for 70 million and despite having a huge population, India has just 21. Rai recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that policy should be made keeping the last, poor man in mind.

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