Referring to Gandhiji’s talisman, Naidu said that the “the poorest man in want of justice” must be the prime motivator of legal practitioners in their thoughts and actions.
Underscoring the importance of restoring public confidence in the system, Naidu called for the disposal of criminal cases related to public functionaries in a speedy, dispassionate, objective manner. For this purpose, special courts can be constituted to exclusively deal with criminal cases involving public servants and elected representatives, the Vice President suggested. He also proposed separate fast track courts for resolving electoral cases and to look into electoral malpractices. He also opined that defection cases in legislatures should be dealt with expeditiously in a time bound manner.
Naidu expressed concern over recent happenings in the legislature of Himachal Pradesh and other states. He called for public representatives to have the highest ethical standards and exemplary conduct in every forum. Warning against frequent disruptions of House proceedings, he said the ‘only way forward for every problem is to discuss debate and decide and not disrupt’.
The Vice President also urged the graduates to strive hard to excel in their profession, while also making the judicial system accessible, affordable and understandable for every citizen. Calling for a change in the colonial mindset, the Vice President also wanted the educational institutions and courts to adopt indigenous dresses during convocations and court proceedings.
Speaking about the importance of law and justice in Indian ethos, Naidu underlined the ‘resolve to secure Justice’ in the Preamble and quoted Thiruvalluvar’s verse, which says a sound judicial system is one which is based on an objective enquiry, dispassionate analysis of evidence and delivery of even-handed justice to all citizens.
Calling judiciary a ‘key pillar of our polity’, Naidu said it is our duty to ensure that we collectively improve the processes and achieve higher levels of effectiveness and efficiency. We need to re-invent, revamp and redefine the way we administer justice and enforce the rule of law, the Vice President said.
Noting the issue of accessibility, Naidu said the cost of legal processes is one of the major impediments in securing justice to all. Noting the hidden costs for people in availing the legal route, Naidu suggested innovations like Lok Adalats and mobile courts be leveraged wherever feasible to improve access. Along with this, streamlining free legal aid mechanisms and lawyers offering ‘pro-bono’ services for poor litigantscan help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure for the underprivileged, he said. He added that the system needs to be brought closer to the people by conducting court proceedings and delivering judgments in the language of local people.
Naidu observed that pendency in cases is also a serious concern. Underscoring the importance of timely justice, he suggested we find systemic solutions to solve the nearly 4 crore pending cases in the country, with most cases stuck in the lower courts, where around 87 percent of the total pending cases lie.