Chandigarh Apr 19 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called for revolutionary structural changes in the country's legal framework and political ethos to ensure speedy and inexpensive access to justice for the common man.
This was the first pre-requisite of the supremacy of the Rule of Law,he said while speaking at the Conference of Chief Ministers and High Court Chief Justices from across the country at New Delhi.
The meeting was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and chaired by Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice K G Balakrishanan. Union Minister for Law and Justice, Dr H R Bhardwaj also addressed the meeting.
Mr Badal regretted that even sixty years after Independence, fair, cheap and justice still remained a distant dream for millions and millions of people in the country.
He called for "drastic measures to remove the common perception that law is a handy mistress in the hands of the rich and the mighty, or that it resides only in the air-conditioned chambers of the legal luminaries." The Chief Minister said that while independence of the judiciary was a noble goal, it could not be the sole objective of a legal and political system. "Independence of Judiciary loses its meaning and relevance if the judicial system fails to inspire confidence in the minds of the poor and the common people." Mr Badal referred to the 'unduly long and seemingly endless' procedures for securing justice through courts of law and said people have begun to lose faith in the fairness and efficacy of our system to provide timely and speedy delivery of justice.
"Cases go on for years and even for decades without an end in sight, and by the time a verdict is delivered, justice has already lost its relevance and meaning, killed by inordinate delays," he said, adding that justice delayed was not only justice denied; it was,infact, a victory for injustice.
The Chief Minister highlighted the need for 'heavy public investments in improving the basic conditions for the delivery of speedy justice: infrastructure and human resource.
He said "We need to lessen the workload of the judge by increasing their ratio to the number of cases they handle. They also need to be provided with adequate infrastructure and secretarial assistance.
Investment in judiciary is an investment in justice," said Mr Badal.
Mr Badal referred to the neglect of the need for these investments in judicial machinery in Punjab over the past few years, and said that while only Rs 43 crore were spent by the previous Congress regime on the improvement of judicial infrastructure, the SAD-BJP government had earmarked Rs 35 crore for the purpose for the past one year alone.
The Chief Minister urged the Government of India to immediately release Rs 59 crores as its share towards matching grant due to the state government for the year 2007 -2008 and 2008-2009.
On the steps initiated by the State Government to reduce arrears, ensure speedy trail of cases and filling of vacancies, Mr Badal informed that during the past one year, eight new Judges have been appointed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and 6 more names have been recommended by the State Government for appointment as Judges.
Apart from this, 15 Additional District and Sessions Judges had been appointed by promotion and 50 newly Civil Judges appointed in 2007, he added.
The Chief Minister assured the Central Government of fulsome support and cooperation for the effective administration of justice through fast track courts in the state. He pointed out that 16 out of total 18 fast track courts sanctioned in the state were currently functioning.
He also mentioned that the first mobile court in the country had been set up in Punjab at Talwara in Hoshiarpur district with the inspiration of Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Mr Vijender Jain.
UNI VKJ BK1646