People Need 'Incorruptible' Justice, Prez Tells Judges

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New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI) President Pratibha Patil today called for an easily accessible judicial machinery which dispenses ''affordable and incorruptible justice'' to the people.

''We need to have in place a judicial machinery which is easily accessible and dispenses affordable and incorruptible justice to the people,'' she said inaugurating a conference on Judicial Reforms.

Noting that India's judicial administration is not without ''blemishes,'' Mrs Patil stressed the need to ''introspect whether our judicial machinery has lived up to'' expectations.

The event presided over by India's Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan was addressed among others by Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj and Bar Council of India chairman Gopakumaran Nair.

President Patil warned against letting the common man ''take law into his own hand,'' stressing that ''the formal adjudicatory machinery has to reign supreme.'' She said, ''We cannot allow a situation where the common man is tempted to take law into his own hand and subscribe to the deviant culture of the lynch mob.'' The two-day conference organised by a Confedration of Indian Bar to discuss the ''disquieting'' delay in delivery of justice has more than half of Supreme Court judges listed among speakers.

The meet is being held at a time when the judicial system has been a focus of much public debate and comment, arising from such concerns as court delays, case arrears, shortage of judges, unending judicial vacancies and opacity, especially in the area of judicial hiring and accountability.

Alluding presumably to numerous conferences and seminars on reforming the justice system that appear to get nowhere, President Patil remarked: ''We talk incessantly about delays.'' ''But now the time has arrived to launch a crusade against the scourge of arrears. Both the Bar and the Bench as equal partners in the administration of justice must address themselves to this problem.'' ''Admittedly,'' the President went on, ''the realm of judicial administration is not without its own share of inadequacies and blemishes.

''Time has come when we need to seriously introspect whether our judicial machinery has lived up to its expectations of walking the enlightened way by securing complete justice to all and standing out as the beacon of truth, faith and hope.'' Touching on a key issue, Mrs Patil said, ''case disposals are excruciatingly time consuming. This agonising delay has rendered the common man's knock on the doors of justice a frustrating experience.

The issue of delay in courts has been debated for decades, without much avail. Experts believe lawmakers must take an initiative to sharpen laws and make them truly deterrent.

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