New Delhi, November 26
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Saturday said that technology must be leveraged through institutional reforms to solve the problems of access to justice, and it is important to simplify the process of cases and make it “more citizen-centric”.
He also said that the law enforcement agencies were using technology to improve the performance of the courts and “it is very important” that the courts be reformed to reach the citizens instead of reaching the courts when they seek justice.
Speaking at the Constitution Day celebrations at the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) said that judges across the country must reflect on the constitutional vision of justice, equality and freedom.
He said it is important to increase the representation of marginalized communities and women in the legal field and courts.
Justice Chandrachud also spoke about the electronic initiatives—virtual justice watch, JustIS 2.0 mobile app, digital court and s3WaaS websites of district courts—launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the event.
In a large and diverse nation like India, the “biggest challenge” faced by the judiciary as an institution is to ensure that the justice delivery system is accessible to everyone, he said.
“We have been adopting technology to improve the performance of the courts. It is very important and necessary that the courts are reformed to reach the people instead of people going to the courts when they seek justice,” the CJI said.
“To ensure that the courts reach the people, it is important that the trial process be simplified and made more citizen-centric,” he said.
Justice Chandrachud said that while the judiciary’s interaction with technology has increased during the COVID-19 crisis, “we must not dismantle the infrastructure but build on it”.
“I will sincerely request that the chief justices of the high courts ensure that the technical infrastructure, on which public funds are spent, is not dismantled but strengthened even more,” he said.
Justice Chandrachud said that as CJI, he is trying to adopt technology-based services in filing and trial “so that institutional errors like delay in filing and hearing are removed from our case”.
“Although technology has effectively helped us to ensure the operation of the law during times of violence, technology must be improved through changes in institutions to solve the major problem of access to justice,” he said.
The CJI said that people’s first contact with the judicial system is the district court and it is very important that it be strengthened and supported. “Regional justice must be removed from the concept of being a subordinate judge,” he said.
Giving details of the e-programs launched by the prime minister, Justice Chandrachud said that these programs show the commitment of judges in providing access to justice.
“Our aim is to improve access to justice. This should not be understood in a narrow way to enrich the experience of those who already have it, but by reaching out to those groups and communities that are deprived of basic rights,” he said.
The CJI said that the Supreme Court now operates in a hybrid manner that allows lawyers and litigants to appear from different parts of the country.
“Though the Supreme Court is on Tilak Marg, the Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the entire nation,” he said.
He said that the colonial and pre-colonial courts followed a path of reluctance, reluctance and inaction in protecting the rights of citizens.
“All the judges in the courts across India, from the district courts to the Supreme Court should think about the constitutional idea of getting justice, equality and freedom,” he said.
“There is a need for us to examine our actions and decisions and question our prejudices and opinions. Because, until we open our minds to the many opinions of people with different experiences of life, we will be lacking in our role as judges,” the CJI said.
He said the institution develops over time only if it works democratically and he believes that as the CJI, it is his responsibility to cooperate and consult with the judges of the supreme court, judges of the high courts, members of the district judiciary and the stakeholders of the institution.
“It is important that we use the knowledge of different categories of people who are part of the judiciary,” he said, adding, “That is why it is very important that the representation of disadvantaged communities and women in the legal profession and the judiciary is improved.”
In the e-steps, the CJI said that the virtual justice watch is a platform where information available through the National Judicial Data Grid is made available to the public.
JustIS mobile app 2.0 is designed for district court judges and is provided to judicial officers to monitor the independence and disposition of their court on their handset 24X7, he said.
Justice Chandrachud said that the digital court is a green step by the Indian judiciary to make the courts paperless or digital.
He said that through digital court systems and s3WaaS systems, district court websites are being developed into a secure, scalable and accessible platform.
“I can assure everyone that these programs introduced today are part of a major technological and institutional development of the Indian judiciary to ensure that even the most disadvantaged communities in the country do not stumble while accessing justice,” he said.
The CJI urged the youth to think about the social realities in India and work towards achieving brotherhood by devoting themselves to the cause of justice in any possible way.
“Sometimes change happens with small acts of kindness. The heart and soul of the law, as it is administered in our courts, is our compassion for our citizens,” he said.