Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Nov 2017 11:58:20

IT WAS only natural for Mr. Justice Deepak Mishra, Chief Justice of India (CJI), to take a firm control of things when the issue of bribery involving judges starting assuming menacing proportions. In his concern to protect and preserve the dignity of the institution of judiciary, the honourable Chief Justice has made a range of swift stipulations that have ultimately put things in the right perspective. This was expected in right earnest since any directionless escalation of the issue would have had a very adverse impact not just on the judiciary as an institution but also on the people in general having an unshakable faith in the system of justice and law. 

No matter the details, which the honourable Chief Justice would handle in his own right, there are many wider issues that need to be considered in great detail not just by the top judge but also by the entire Indian society. In the past several decades, many question-marks have been raised about the conduct of the judiciary and the quality of its handling of various situations and cases involving very wide-ranging issues such as the conduct of the judges, the behaviour of the lawyers, interpretations of various legal nuances involved in cases, the sum and substance of the judgements that leave in their wake a lot of confusion in the entire society, and finally the doubts that often linger in people’s minds about the rightness of the approach of the judiciary in the country.

It is true that the public could never be as well informed as of the legal fraternity about the nitty-gritties of the law and and its interpretation. But on several occasions, the common public finds itself at wit’s end as regards certain judgements and the approaches the judges take on certain issues that generally trouble the popular mind. And as luck would have it, when things take such a shape, questions get raised about the integrity of the judicial system if not of the judges as individuals. It has been a desire of members of the common public that someday, a greater clarity would emerge on the scene about the thought-process that governs the minds of the judicial officers at all levels.

Yet another and more devastating issue that has blighted the public mind is about the delayed justice. Even a child in the street now knows that entering a legal battle and going to the courts at whatever level means wasting at least half a lifetime. Savage jokes about judicial delays often come up in the social media, some of which even maligning the judiciary quite unnecessarily. Yet, there seems to be no answer to the delays in justice, almost proving the old dictum that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Thinkers in the judicial and administrative systems, people in the Government and elsewhere have spent considerable energies to find ways and means to avoid delays. Ultimately, many people who feel frustrated after having tried a solution even end up accusing that the judiciary itself does not want to make the right amends.

This is a dangerous situation, almost explosive in the sense testing the societal patience to its limits. When the honourable Chief Justice has already taken things in his control in the judges’ bribery case, it may be a good idea for him to take also a deeper look at the overall judicial scenario in the country. It would be preposterous to expect a solution to emerge tomorrow morning. But if the honourable Chief Justice also takes a deeper interest in tackling many a dirtier malaise afflicting the judicial system, he would do one of the greatest goods the nation so richly deserves. Indian judicial system has been respected the world over for its virtue and value, but it also has earned certain decline in its status over time, thanks to the ills it bred simultaneously. The Supreme Court may also concern itself with this.