Kids’ custody battles transcend boundaries, law is needed: CJI

 Intense custody battles in courts between estranged spouses transcending national boundaries cause children “immense mental stress”, necessitating a law on inter-country child custody cases, Chief Justice of India J S Khehar said today.

“The only question is to give custody to which parent.

It’s not simple. It’s a cultural question involving the ways of life, which custom the child is accustomed to. It is also the question of sovereignty of two countries,” he said.

Inaugurating the ‘All India Seminar’ organised by the International Law Association here, Justice Khehar called upon the government to make a comprehensive law as children are the future of the nation and protection of their physical, mental and moral health cannot be compromised due to matrimonial disputes.

“Parental clash in families are bound to hit children.

When matrimonial disputes change to child-custody battle, the child concerned is in a serious stress.

“When it transcends national boundaries, the welfare of the child suffers. The legal battle gets entangled in sovereign laws of the nations concerned,” he said.

Either there has to be a complete legislation to deal with such case or India should decide to be a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1980, “because child rights are vital and they are in a flux” he said.

The Hague Convention of October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty, which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.

Supreme Court judge A K Sikri, who spoke prior to the CJI, also highlighted the need of a law on the issue.

“It is not easy to decide the custody of a child. It becomes more difficult when we have to decide while granting custody and one of the parent is abroad. The visitation right granted to that parent abroad will be difficult,” Justice Sikri said.

He said that cross-border insolvency solutions must be there.

“There should be a synergy of laws. An MNC may go insolvent in one country and has jurisdiction in almost all other countries. It will be difficult if laws are not uniform,” Justice Sikri said.

Absence of timely legal help to poor affects credibility: CJI

The credibility of the legal system and the rule of law have come under “severe strain” in the absence of timely help to poor and illiterate Indians, Chief Justice of India J S Khehar said today.

The CJI made the observations while highlighting the importance of Para Legal Volunteers (PLV) who, according to him, enabled ordinary and helpless people to avail the benefits of the legal system for alleviating their sufferings and injustice.

“In the absence of timely help to most Indians, the credibility of the legal system and the rule of law comes under severe strain,” he said, stressing that the poor and illiterate Indian were the main clients of the justice system.

Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who also spoke at the two-day National Meet of Para Legal Volunteers here, emphasised the use of technology in providing access and administration of justice.

Inaugurating two-day National Meet, the CJI said the service to poor was a “super divine duty” being carried out by the volunteers, which was move than the “divine duty discharged by the judges”.

The last-mile connectivity for a villager under the PLV scheme was not the lawyers but the PLVs working under the competent legal authorities which impart awareness of laws and legal system to them, he said.

When the disputes are such that they are beyond the capacity of these volunteers who have basic training in law, they approach the nearest legal services authority for a dispute settlement mechanism like Lok Adalat, mediation or more formal legal remedies.

“These volunteers trained under the 2009 para legal volunteer scheme act as filters relating to the number and nature of disputes that need to be formally and institutionally dealt with by the legal services. Para legal volunteers save time and money of the poor, the official administration and the courts,” Justice Khehar said.

Lauding NALSA’s poverty allevation scheme, he said it ensured that the benefits of various anti-poverty schemes of the central and the state governments actually reach the intended beneficiaries.

Emphasising the need for restructuring its approach and design, the CJI favoured skill-driven PLVs who can properly research and investigate facts or laws related to a case.

“In fact, this will develop para legal volunteer as multi skilled individual and enhance his or her performance as the critical interface between the common litigant and the courts by a process of upgradation that opens more opportunity for them,” he said.

The Minister emphasised the need for increasing use of technology in the judicial process.

“Time is changing fast and with the changing times, we have to change our technology. Technology is a very important tool in the administration of justice.

“In a country of 125 crore people, 108 crore people have mobile phones, among whom 35 crore have smart phones, which will very fast reach 50 crore figure”, Prasad said.

He said 113 crore people have Aadhaar cards but refused to speak on it further saying the matter was sub-judice.

Noting that good governance can be delivered with the help of technology, he said with government’s scheme of common service centre (CSC), people in villages and in small towns could avail digital services like making of ration cards, PAN cards, Aadhaar cards or booking of railway tickets.

“We have decided to link the CSC with the access to justice. Now these centres could help Dalit women, Kashmiri women and people from North East to get access to justice,” he said, adding that CSCs were being opened in 1,000 panchayats of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and soon 800 such centres will be opened in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.

Justice Dipak Misra, the executive chairman of NALSA, said this year has been dedicated as the year of excellence to “access to justice through para-legal volunteers”.

“Through these legal volunteers, the poor people of the country will be able know about government schemes and seek redressal of their grievances,” he said.

Several Supreme Court judges, high court judges and judicial officers from various trial courts across the country were also present at the event.

Source : PTI

CJI criticises electoral politics, unfulfilled poll promises

Chief Justice of India J S Khehar today criticised the electoral politics in the country, saying poll promises are “routinely unfulfilled”, caste issues projected differently to get a majority and party manifestos do not have any linkage to socio-economic justice.

The CJI said that electoral politics in India centres around “mobilisation and politicisation” of the social groups which were poor or disadvantaged and have long remained politically dominant.

Justice Khehar, who was speaking at a seminar on ‘Electoral Issues and Economic Reforms’, said, “Caste issues are projected in different ways to ensure a majority in each constituency.”

He said that ever since these marginalised sections have begun turning up in larger numbers to vote, it has led to an unprecedented volatility in the electoral outcome.

This has forced political parties to seek new forms of political alignment, social engineering and support, he said.

Despite these changes in the electoral process, the non- fulfillment of poll promises never becomes an electoral issue, the CJI observed.

“No consequence occurs whether promises are fulfilled or not. Every political party brazenly finds an excuse of not reaching consensus amongst alike partners.

“Even our legal system provides for no consequences to be suffered by political parties if promises made in the manifesto are not fulfilled,” he said.

“Uninformed citizenry, with a short term memory forgets and the election manifesto becomes a mere piece of paper. For this political parties have to be made accountable,” the CJI said at a seminar here.

Justice Dipak Misra, the next senior-most judge of the apex court, who spoke before the CJI, also stressed on the need for electoral and economic reforms by categorically stating that “purchasing power has no room in an election” and “a candidate must bear in mind that contesting elections is not an investment”.

“It is because in an elevated constitutional democracy, purity of election and credibility of the process of election have their signification,” he said.

He further said that elections have to be “bereft of criminalisation” and “must be perceived as an activity involving norms of fiscal morality”.

He said that the apex court had in 1996 said the best available men should be chosen as people’s representatives.

“This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values who win elections on a positive vote obtained on their own merit and not by negative vote process of elimination from comparative demerits of the candidates,” Justice Misra said.

He also said that candidates and the voters are to remember the old saying that ‘out of debt out of danger’.

Justice Khehar said pursuant to Supreme Court’s directions to the Election Commission of India to formulate guidelines with regard to manifestos and freebies, the poll panel has introduced these in the model code of conduct and has been taking action against parties for its violation.

Speaking on the topic of economic reforms, the CJI said economic reforms are “confined only to economic growth and not linked to social and political justice”.

“Unconstitutional economics for economic growth produces serious socio-economic ills. Economic reforms take centre stage while democracy in terms of the priorities in the directive principles is overlooked, whereas the Constitution requires just the opposite.

“Consequently, electoral politics does not tell the citizens as to what kind of reforms they are entitled to under the Constitution,” he said.

The CJI said the real problem of economic reforms arises in their implementation.

“This problem arises because the Constitution treats the distribution and use of national wealth generated by the economic system as an integral part of generation of such wealth.

“Interestingly, political parties and their manifestos compartmentalise the generation of wealth separately from its end use,” it said.

Without mentioning the names of the political parties, the CJI referred to the slogans– ‘Your Voice Our Pledge’ and ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’– adopted by Congress and the BJP respectively, in the 2014 General Assembly polls, and said, their manifestos showed “no linkage between economic reforms and the Constitutional goal of socio-economic justice”.

The CJI, however, said the land reforms and the Industrial Disputes Act put in place by the government after Independence has resulted in people from the enormous below poverty line being brought into the equally enormous middle class.

“This is the economic reform that deals with and caters to the Directive Principles” and “it is this economic reform which has made all the difference between India and Pakistan”, where, the CJI said, individual families own hundreds of villages with the peasants living in mud huts and carrying out farming for the land owners.

Source : PTI