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20th-Jan-2015

Hardest challenge for new Chief Justice is corruption

By Editorial Desk

The new Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Sunday spoke for a more transparent procedure in the appointment of the Supreme Court judges in line with the Constitution. The new Chief Justice said this while addressing in response to the felicitation given to him by the lawyers as the new Chief Justice. The Chief Justice said, "We will examine through discussions whether our constitutional provisions regarding appointment of the Supreme Court judges can be made more transparent," citing the example of neighbouring India where there are laws on the appointment of the judges in the higher courts.
Referring to the existing procedures for the recruitment of lower court judges, the Chief Justice said, "The process is transparent and independent. We have already developed a system in this regard".
Around 3,65,059 cases are awaiting disposal at the SC and 24,95,944 cases in the district courts across the country, he mentioned.
Against such a huge number of cases, there are 94 judges in the SC while 1,500 in the district courts, he said. "It would be evident that the number of judges is quite disproportionate to the number of cases pending in different courts of the country."
Besides, the cumbersome legal system and complicated land administration of the country have made it difficult for a judge to take any shortcut approach in hearing and disposal of the cases, he added. "In all cases, the judges should have an ultimate objective to provide a fair and just decision to the litigant people. In order to address those problems, we have no alternative but to increase the number of judges and that should be at least double of the existing number," Justice Sinha said.
 "Recently, in course of hearing of some sensational cases, it has been revealed to me that decisions ending up with the convictions of the accused persons cannot be upheld for lack of evidence and materials, which are supposed to be procured at the investigation stage."
The Chief Justice asked the media to cooperate with the judiciary through playing a constructive role so that it (judiciary) can run without any hindrance.
"On this occasion, I would request esteemed persons involved in media to cooperate with the judiciary playing a constructive role, so that this institution can run without any hindrance enjoying full public confidence and credibility of all," he said.
 Taking a question from SCBA president Khandker Mahbub Hossain, the Justice Sinha said, "The lower court is not governed by the Law Ministry, it is rather under our control to a large extent."
We admire the good intentions as expressed by his Lordship Justice Sinha of doing justice even-handedly.
What has escaped the attention of the new Chief Justice is corruption that is prevailing freely at various levels of the judicial system including among persons involved in prosecution of criminal cases. The criminal justice system is loosing people's faith fast. The people look to the Supreme Court to be assured that justice has been done and not sold.
The Chief Justice has defended the lower judiciary saying that it is under the control of the Supreme Court to a large extent but not under the government as the judiciary is separated from the executive. We have to see that his Lordship learns more about the reality as time goes on. There should be urgency about forming the Separate Secretariat for the judiciary.
There is also need to ensure honesty among police dealing with criminal cases. Police remand is a good money making business for some.  
It cannot be said that police acts independently for justice system to work independently. Unless pervasive corruption in the justice system is dealt with mere appointment of more judges for hurried disposal of the cases will mean quick injustices. Unless the lower judiciary where foundations of the cases are laid made corruption free all the good intentions of their Lordships of the Supreme Court will not be helpful enough.