Archana Mishra | January 23, 2018
The supreme court should be subjected to constant scrutiny so that it improves, Justice Jasti Chelameswar said at a book release function on Monday. This was his first public appearance in Delhi after a January 12 press conference at which he and three fellow judges had spoken up about their differences with CJI Deepak Mishra over allotment of cases.
"One must constantly examine how exactly the institution is functioning now. What are its achievements and failures, and how it can improve as an institution?" Justice Chelameswar said, launching a book, 'Supreme Court of India: The Beginning', by the late Prof George H Gadbois JR, and edited by constitutional scholar Vikram Raghavan and Vasujith Ram. "I don't know why Raghavan wanted me to be the chief guest at this book launch," he joked.
In the audience were former judges, academicians and politicians like Jairam Ramesh and Salman Khurshid of the Congress. Also present was Justice Madan B Lokur, one of the three judges who had joined Justice Chelameswar at the press conference he'd called at his residence.
The book gives an account of the foundation of the apex court and its first two decades. "Those who are interested in sustaining and improving the institution for the welfare of the people of this country require a greater study of the remaining period," Justice Chelameswar said. "For the survival of a liberal democracy, an impartial and independent judiciary is essential."
He opined that the supreme court was not a "superintendent court, at least the text of the constitution doesn't provide this power". However, he said, in practice, it exercises much superintendence -- in the appointment and transfer of judges and by laying down the law regarding various aspects of administration of justice at the high courts and subordinate courts.
He said there was a near impossible backlog of 50,000-60,000 cases at the supreme court, for which a solution needed to be found for the court to remain relevant. The cases had accumulated, he said, because of "the enormous jurisdiction conferred on the supreme court by the consitution, coupled with the court's eagerness to do complete justice".
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