Judicial activism shouldn’t erode constitutional principles: President

President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday cautioned against judicial activism resulting in the erosion of constitutional principles of separation of powers between the three pillars of state and and called on Indian judiciary to reinvent itself through introspection and self-correction.

Speaking at the valedictory function of the sesquicentennial celebrations (150 years) of the Madras High Court here, Mukherjee said: “Judicial activism should not lead to the erosion of Constitutional principles of separation of power. The principle of separation of power is the power of restraint.”

Appreciating the intervention of courts in issues based on complaints received by post cards or a newspaper report, he however said judicial activism should not blur the distinction between the three organs – legislature, executive and judiciary – of the state.

Noting laws are enacted by legislature, the executive implements them and the judiciary interprets them, Mukherjee stressed that the balance of power mentioned in the Constitution should be maintained.

He said each organ of the government functioning within its own sphere and none taking over the function of the others is one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution.

Stressing on the need to preserve and protect the independence of the judiciary from any encroachments, Mukherjee said that despite the challenges, the judiciary is working hard and called for to be further strengthened.

He said the Constitution is being amended to increase the retirement age of the high court judges, and sought the assistance of all concerned to ensure filling up of vacancies.

According to him, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms should be encouraged to speed up the delivery of justice.

Mukherjee said selection and appointment of judges should confirm to highest standards as credibility of judiciary would depend on the quality of the judges.

Speaking about the Madras High Court, Mukherjee said it is one of the three courts established in India by Letters of Patent issued by Queen Victoria.

The Madras High Court was set up in Aug 15, 1862, exactly 85 years prior to India’s independence, he said, terming it a “guardian and watch tower”. Many luminaries emerged out of this court, he added.

In his address, union Law Minister Salman Khurshid hoped the delivery of justice in the country gets faster, and noted several courts under the Madras High Court have taken up the e-court system.

Pointing out the allocation of Rs.159.82 crore for various court and court related buildings, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa stressed that her government is sensitive to the needs of the high court.

“An amount of Rs.10 crore has recently been sanctioned for an auditorium and museum for which I have laid the foundation today (Saturday),” she said.

She said the preliminary works on the setting up of the National Law School at Srirangam (her assembly constituency, around 320 km from here) at an outlay of Rs.100 crore has started.

Jayalalithaa also announced the increase in the financial assistance under the Tamil Nadu Advocates’ Welfare Fund from Rs.200,000 to Rs.525,000 without any service period restriction in the event of death of an advocate.

“A recurring annual government grant will be given, up to Rs.4 crore for the Tamil Nadu Advocates’ Welfare Fund,” she said.

Chief Justice of the Madras High Court M.Y.Eqbal welcomed the gathering comprising of state ministers, judges of the Supreme Court, and the Madras, Kerala and Karnataka High Courts, lawyers, government officials and others.

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