M A I N   N E W S

Weed out graft from judiciary
Manmohan Singh for cut in holidays in courts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today urged the judiciary to weed out corruption existing within its system and suggested cut in vacations in courts to reduce backlog of over 20 million cases.

“More than one retired Chief Justice has drawn attention to the growing incidence of corruption among certain sections of the judiciary. The confidence of the public can be sustained only if, apart from efficient and effective justice, there is a firm belief that judgement will be rendered without any extraneous consideration,” he said.

Inaugurating the third Conference of Chief Justices and the Chief Ministers in the Capital, he said the framers of the Constitution placed a great ‘onus and responsibility on the members and practitioners of our judiciary to maintain the highest standards of probity and integrity’.

“Accountability and transparency norms cannot, and should not, be imposed on judiciary from outside. It is, I believe, up to the judiciary to do some soul-searching and ensure how this can best be done,” he added.

The Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice R.C. Lahoti, said the year 2005 would be declared “the year of excellence in Indian judiciary”.

“There will be no place for any corrupt or indolent in the system. I mean business,” he said.

Expressing concern over the huge backlog of cases, Dr Manmohan Singh said the government was committed to ‘providing whatever support was needed to cut delays in high courts and lower judiciary’.

He suggested cutting down of long vacations enjoyed by the judiciary, which would go a long way in reducing the backlog.

“A simple way of improving the productivity of the judicial system is by increasing the number of working days,” he said.

The Prime Minister said cutting down long vacations and reducing the number of holidays was estimated to be equivalent to increasing the number of judges by 25 per cent.

Advancement in information technology had not touched the corridors of judiciary in a significant manner, he said.

He suggested the Supreme Court and the Union Ministry of Science and Technology could work together and suggest ways and means of using modern technologies to help the judicial system reform its processes.

“We have also decided to establish national tax tribunals to reduce tax-related litigation,” the Prime Minister said.

The government would also implement a 1994 resolution to check litigation between the government and public sector undertakings (PSUs).

The Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers, titled ‘Envisioning Justice in the 21st Century’, is being held after a gap of 11 years, Law Minister Hansraj Bharadwaj said in his welcome address.

The Chief Justice of India conceded that backlog and delay in deciding cases were areas of grave concern. He said the judiciary alone was not responsible for it and the government should share the blame.

Lamenting the meagre amount given to the judiciary by the government in the planned expenditures, Justice Lahoti said the financial crunch becomes acute as the Central grant was being made conditional to the effect that it would match the money given by the state governments.

He said there was no money to make additional appointment of judges and to provide them with modern infrastructure.

Identifying the lack of monetary resources as a major reason for the ailment, he said, “We have diagnosed the ailment. The medicine is known, but we have yet to make provision for purchasing the medicine and administering it. We cannot leave the patient alone to cure his illness all by himself.”

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