SC Bar Association I-Day event: India faces unique challenges, all organs must work together, says Rijiju
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said it is easy to comment broadly on what the executive or legislature or judiciary should do, but the reality is that India, with its vast population, faces “unique challenges” which are “easy to deal with”. No”, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said. Addressing an event organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to celebrate Independence Day here on Monday.
“The situation you have in India is not easy to handle. It is very unique. It is very easy to comment and it is very easy to comment that the legislature should do this, the executive should do that, the judiciary should end all pending cases… it is very easy to make broad comments,” Rijiju said.
The minister said the members ask him in Parliament why there are pending cases and why there is so much delay in delivering justice. “At times, I get helpless because I am not able to answer in definite words.
Taking advantage of my privileges in the House, I can also speak like other members. But I also have to understand that I have to come back to the judiciary, I have to talk to the Chief Justice, and I have to talk to the judges. So, I have to understand, there is a Lakshman Rekha which I can never dare to cross.”
Speaking about the unique challenges, Rijiju said, “It is not that any part of our state is performing less than the other. The fact that our country is very unique so is the challenges.”
The minister said that “each judge (in India) disposes of 40-50 cases in a day…
No other country has judges to handle such workload”.
He said that, unlike in the United Kingdom where there are no more than 70,000 voters in an MP constituency, an MP in India represents an average of 3 million people. Apart from addressing their concerns, the MP also has to perform his parliamentary duties. “The only other country that is bigger than India in size and population is China, which is not democratic. Therefore, no country can face the problems that India is facing,” Rijiju said.
“Similarly, the Indian legislature, the executive, the judiciary face unique challenges”, he said, and “sometimes as a member of the legislature, I fail to understand what challenges the judiciary faces.” And the judiciary also fails to understand what the executive or the legislature is facing.”
Emphasizing the need for all organs to work together, he said, “If we do not work together, we will not understand each other. If we do not understand each other, we will solve the problem of this country.” We will never be able to. We have to come together. There is no excuse for this. There are challenges in every walk of life.” Rijiju said that “being the executive of the government… has a huge responsibility”.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the work in the apex court and left a backlog.
“I remember the time when I took office, the pandemic almost destroyed us. Even my family members could not attend the swearing-in ceremony, fear was everywhere. The court has inherited a backlog of nearly one year due to covid. In the last 16 months, we could only gather physically for 55 days. I wish the situation was different and we were more productive,” he said and expressed hope that “the situation will return to normal shortly and the courts will work at full capacity”.
The CJI said that “under the constitutional framework, each organ has been given a unique obligation” and securing justice to the citizens is not the only responsibility of the court, which is made clear by Article 38 of the Constitution “to secure the state”. Justice: Social, Economic and Political”.
“Every function of every organ of the State should be in the spirit of the Constitution. I must note that all the three organs of the state – executive, legislature and judiciary – are equal reserves of constitutional trust,” he said.
The CJI also said that “the legislature may not be able to look into the issues that may come up during implementation. By interpreting the statutes, the courts have influenced the true intent of the legislature. He has breathed life into them by making them relevant for them.”
Referring to the faith of the people in the judiciary, he said, “People are confident that they will get relief and justice from the judiciary. It gives them the power to pursue the dispute. They know that when things go wrong, the judiciary will stand by them.”