CJI Cautions Against Respecting Wealth Not Well Earned

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (UNI) Law postgraduates conferred degrees today were sent into the real world with parting words on ''innovative legal thinking'' and how ''interest in the legal profession...

has not translated into a greater respect for law.'' The lament about the respect for law came from Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari who delivered Indian Law Institute's first convocation address since it became a deemed university in October 2004.

The advice on the imperative of innovative legal thinking for developing nations such as India came from Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan who, as ILI president, was the host.

Sharing the dais among others were Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat, who heads the ILI academic council, and senior advocate R K Anand, in his capacity as ILI vice president.

Describing the evil of corruption engulfing ''our society,'' Justice Balakrishnaan said, ''we live in a social milieu where one tends to respect wealth without looking into the fact whether the wealth is well earned or not.'' Concerned how ''moral values of yesteryears have been obliterated by selfishness,'' Justice Balakrishnan stressed teachers' duty to ''inculcate a strong sense of ethical values in... disciples.'' Justice Balakrishnan also noted that a rapidly growing global market in legal services and information ''demands restructuring of the legal profession in many countries.'' He said legal institutions and concepts that emerged during the industrial revolution-- intended to facilitate industrial capitalism-- ''are becoming woefully inadequaste in the digital world of e-commerce.'' ''Innovative legal thinking is imperative especially for developing countries like India if we are to take advantage of newer opportunities for creating wealth.

''We should overcome the ageold curse of poverty and disempowerment and fight against the new threats of violence and intolerance,'' the Chief Justice said.

Greeting the young people stepping out ''to join a profession whose relevance remains undiminished,'' Ansari spoke of ''unease with regard to the working of the rule of law.'' He cited an observation made at home and abroad that ''the rule of law in India is in a downward spiral'' primary responsibility for which lies with the ''delayed justice dispensation system.'' A former Indian Envoy to the United Nations headquarters, Ansari recited findings of the U N Research Institute for Social Development that the Indian Parliament is ''increasingly becoming ineffective'' in providing surveillance of the executive branch of the government.

He said the 2006 study on The Indian Parliament as an Instrument of Accountability blamed it on two factors: -- The behaviour pattern of the MPs and the wastage of time that could otherwise be devoted to legislative duties and scrutiny of executive action; -- The increasing complexity of modern governance and the resultant need for greater professionalism in legislative work.

With the requisite correctives ''not forthcoming,'' a ''hobbled legislative has ceded ground not to the executive or external forces, but to the judiciary.'' He said the traditional public esteem for the judiciary has been reinforced by its activism in contrast to the executive failure to apply correctives in, for instance, expanding the ambit of rights.

But lack of access to justice, its high cost, delays in delivery, lack of a mechanism for accountability and allegations of corruption have given rise to doubts and added to the pervasive pessimism about the efficacy of institutions.

On excessive zeal reflected at times in judicial pronouncements, his suggestion was caution as advised once by former US Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone who said: ''While unconstitutional exercise of power by the executive and legislative members of the Government is subject to judicial restraint, the only checks on our own exercise of power is our sense of self-restraint.'' He said the careful balance visualised ''in the Constitution has been disturbed'' and the key to redressing would be to reiterate its major premises: -- The People of India are the sovereign and gave themselves the Constitution; -- The objectives sought by the People through this Constitution are inscribed in its Preamble. Thus Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are not gifts of the State; instead the State is the means, and its institutions the modality, through which these objectives are to be achieved; UNI

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