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.

Courts handle complex matters in society: Khurshid

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid has praised the judiciary’s role in the “present contentious society” saying “the courts have not shirked their responsibility”.

“In today’s contentious society, where there is a dichotomy, where there is a questioning of fundamental values and a reassertion of traditional values, the courts have not shirked their responsibility and do take on some very difficult propositions, including those on which the society is divided,” the minister said on Friday at a function organised to honour law teachers.

“I see no reason that stops the Indian judicial system from seeking a place amongst the best in the world. We have the caliber, the history and the basic fundamentals. Only some fine-tuning is required.” Khurshid added.

The function was organised by the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) and Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training (MILAT) to honour law teachers and law schools of the SAARC region.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice A K Sikri, the acting chief justice of the Delhi High Court, said there is a dearth of law teachers in the country and law students should take up teaching as a profession.

At the function, Delhi University’s former Vice Chancellor Professor Upendra Baxi was conferred the “Distinguished Law Teacher” award and Nepal’s Attorney General Yuvraj Sangroula, who is also associated with the profession of teaching law, received the SAARC law scholar Award for 2012.

HC asks courts to expedite cases of HIV positive people

Acting on a letter by Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, raising concerns over the problems faced by HIV positive people in accessing judiciary, the Delhi High Court has asked all its subordinate courts to expedite disposal of cases involving such people.

A communique from the high court’s registrar general to all the lower courts directed judicial officers to deal with and dispose of the cases of HIV positive litigants at the earliest and on priority.

The advisory was issued after Law Minister Khurshid wrote to Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri, requesting him to make court procedure “expedient and conducive” for the HIV positive people.

Khurshid’s letter was also annexed with the communique, circulated among all judicial officers at all the courts.

“I am directed to forward herewith a copy of letter dated May 21 of the Minister of Law and Justice with a request and circulate the same among all judicial officers under your control for information and necessary compliance,” said the letter, issued on behalf of the high court’s registrar general.

Gujarat cop Sanjiv Bhatt granted bail

In a setback to the Gujarat government, a special court granted bail to suspended police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 communal riots. Coming out of jail, the officer said rule of law has prevailed.

 

Sessions Judge V.K. Vyas granted bail on the condition that Bhatt would cooperate with the investigation and would be present when called.

 

“At 11 a.m. today (Monday), the court pronounced the judgment and granted Sanjiv Bhatt bail,” Bhatt’s counsel I.H. Sayed told reporters in Ahmedabad.

 

The Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was arrested Sep 30 for allegedly forcing a police constable, K.D. Panth, to sign a false affidavit about his attending a meeting called by Modi soon after the Godhra train burning that sparked the riots.

 

Rose petals were showered on him and his supporters shouted slogans in his favour as he left the Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad.

“I am happy that the rule of law has prevailed and this would be a victory for hope,” a composed Bhatt told reporters outside the jail.

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the court order showed the independence of the legal system.

“No matter how much people speculate and put question marks, ultimately… we have shown our system is independent and it does not get swayed either by public opinion or by any kind of pressure,” Khurshid told reporters in New Delhi.

The officer’s wife Shweta Bhatt told reporters in Ahmedabad that she was relieved at the development. “I am am feeling really good and after 18 days I met him. My faith in judiciary has further strengthened after this.”