Saturday, January 22, 2011

Judicial reforms need of the hour: Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said today that protecting the independence, credibility, and moral authority of the Indian judiciary is of paramount importance in protecting the unity and integrity of India.

Taking part in a National Convention here on Judicial Reforms, Dr. JP recalled that the Supreme Court has emerged as the last bastion in preserving India’s unity. It is playing a historic role by addressing explosive issues like the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute, tensions over caste reservations and inter-State and intra-State disputes on issues ranging from regional discrimination to water sharing and capricious allocation of scarce resources like 2 G spectrum.

Dr. JP pointed out that democracy cannot work unless we have an independent and effective judiciary. In this connection, he quoted what American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr had to say on democracy, "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

Dr. JP suggested that the Government of India undertake four judicial reforms without further loss of time. They are:

Constitution of a high-power National Judicial Commission with the Vice President of India in the chair. The commission will be responsible for appointment of men and women of competence and unimpeachable integrity to higher judiciary and removal of errant judges.

Constitution of an Indian Judicial service on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service. As of now, bright and competent lawyers are shunning the Bench. The Government can attract talent if there is a prestigious Indian Judicial Service. Parliament has to enact a law facilitating the formation of the service since the Constitution provides for it.

Constitution of at least 5000 rural courts as envisaged by the Gram Nayayalaya Act and an increase in the number of judges. Millions of poor people are shunning courts, as they are expensive and inaccessible. Instead, they are taking recourse to criminals and gangsters who dispense rough and ready justice for a price. The failure of the judicial system has created a huge market demand for criminals. Criminals, with political connections, are minting money by taking up land settlements etc.

Reforming procedural laws. The present laws like the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code, which are lawyer friendly, must be made citizen friendly.

Dr. JP, who has played a leading role in advocating all the reforms, said he is happy that a broad consensus has emerged over the need for and urgency of reforms. The Government should institutionalize the reforms as early as possible, he said.

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