Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said on November 26 that the Supreme Court is constantly working to ensure that legal processes become easier and simplified so that citizens do not languish in jails unnecessarily.
CJI said that last year, on Constitution Day, President Droupadi Murmu raised the concern of overcrowding of prisons and the incarceration of citizens from marginalised backgrounds.
Responding to that, CJI said, “Madam President, I want to assure you that we are constantly working to ensure that legal processes become easier and simplified, so that citizens do not languish in jails unnecessarily. The version 2.0 of the FASTER initiative that will be launched today ensures that judicial orders of release of a person are immediately transferred to jail authorities via electronic means, so that the person is released on time.”
In addition, on the judicial side, the Supreme Court has been hearing cases relating to prisoners’ rights, overcrowding, etc., CJI said, adding that he has also tasked the research centre of the Court to come up with a project to improve the conditions of prisons.
Speaking at the Constitution Day event in the Supreme Court, CJI Chandrachud said the goal behind these initiatives has been to ensure that the people feel that the constitutional institution of the judiciary is working for them.
“Today, on the occasion of Constitution Day, I want to tell the people of India that the doors of the Supreme Court have always been open for you and will remain open in future also. You never need to be afraid of coming to Court,” CJI Chandrachud said.
Similarly, CJI Chandrachud said that the statue of Dr Ambedkar that we unveiled today in the Supreme Court premises is an extension of the thought that the right to approach the Court is the “heart and soul” of the Constitution, as Dr Ambedkar famously said. He further told the gathering that individuals should not be afraid of going to Court or view it as a last resort.
“Rather, it is my hope that by our efforts, citizens of every class, caste, and creed can repose trust in our court system and view it as a fair and effective forum to enforce their rights. Sometimes, we as a society may frown on litigation as a disreputable entanglement.”
“But, just as the Constitution allows us to resolve our political differences through established institutions and processes, our court system helps resolve our many disagreements through established principles and processes. In this way, every case in every Court in the country is an extension of constitutional governance,” CJI added.
CJI Chandrachud said that our Constitution has allowed us to take our unbridled passions and energy and streamline them through the institutional structures of Government.
“So when we say today, we honour the adoption of the Constitution, first and foremost, we honour the fact that the Constitution “exists” and that the Constitution “works,” he said.
“The Constitution and its framers successfully channelled the energies of liberty and independence to build a ship and chart a course for liberty, equality, and fraternity. As we honour their achievements, we must also recognise our generation’s solemn duty to keep the ship afloat, ensure there is wind in its sails, and continue the journey,” CJI Chandrachud added. In the last seven decades, the Supreme Court of India has acted as a “people’s court,” he said further.
The CJI said thousands of citizens have approached its door with the faith that they will get justice through this institution.
“Citizens came to the Court to seek the protection of their personal liberty, accountability against unlawful arrest, protection of rights of bonded labourers, asking for guidelines to prevent sexual harassment at workplace, prevention of social evils such as manual scavenging, even hoping for interference to get clean air, food security, and so many more instances that cannot be summarised in few minutes. These cases are not just citations or statistics for the Court,” said the CJI. These cases resemble the expectations of the people from the Supreme Court, as well as the Court’s own commitment to deliver justice to the citizens, he said.
“Our Court is perhaps the only Court in the world where any citizen, no matter who they are or where they come from, can set in motion the constitutional machinery of the Supreme Court simply by even writing to the Chief Justice of India,” he further said.
Apart from ensuring that the citizens get justice through its judgements, the Supreme Court of India has been making continuous endeavours to ensure that even its administrative processes are citizen-centric so that the common citizen feels a connection with the working of the Court, said the CJI.
He said that courts are now live-streaming their proceedings and this decision was taken with the view that the citizens should know what is happening inside the courtrooms. Constant media reporting about the proceedings of the courts indicates the engagement of the public with the workings of the courtrooms.
The Supreme Court also took a decision to translate its judgments to regional languages with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, he said.
He mentioned that as of November 25, 2023, the Supreme Court delivered 36,068 judgments in English. All of these judgments are available for free on the e-Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) platform of the Court, which was launched in January this year.
Supreme Court today also launched e-SCR (Hindi), as 21,388 judgments have been translated into Hindi, vetted, and uploaded on the e-SCR portal. e-SCR (Hindi) will allow the users to search for judgments in Hindi. Rest judgments translated into Hindi, are being vetted and shall be uploaded soon.
Besides, 9,276 judgments have been translated into other Indian languages, which include Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Odia, Malayalam, Bengali, Kannada, Assamese, Nepali, Urdu, Garo, Khasi, and Konkani. These judgments have also been uploaded to the e-SCR portal.
While the judiciary embraces technology, it also launched e-Sewa Kendras in all courts to ensure that no citizen is left behind in the judicial process. “We embrace our citizens as co-equal partners in a shared national endeavour,” said the CJI.
The event was attended by President Droupadi Murmu, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal and other Supreme Court judges.
(with inputs from ANI)