Guwahati: Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam on Saturday urged the judiciary to ensure easy access of the common people to court as well as "early finality of dispensation of justice" to uphold its credibility.
"Both bar and bench have a vital role to ensure that the arrears in court cases and consequent delay in dispensing justice are dealt with as a priority as this has considerably eroded the reputation of the judiciary," the Chief Justice said while inaugurating the additional building of the Gauhati High Court here.
Judiciary is the country`s most respectable institution and "its credibility must be cherished but in recent times there has been a steady decline which must be arrested so that the high esteem and faith that the common people repose in it is not affected," he said.
"Soon after assuming office, I wrote to all chief justices of state high courts regarding pendency of cases directing them to identify the oldest along with the old cases, particularly those related to women and juveniles and give priority to these cases," Justice Sathasivam said.
An active judiciary with a diligent and intelligent judge may not be enough but sometimes they have to become "activist judges and go beyond and behind the letter of the rule and identify the principle that guides the law," he pointed out.
"Activism is not the exclusive domain of judges of Supreme Court and High Court judges but even those in the subordinate courts should practise this when the situation arises," the Chief Justice said.
Justice Sathasivam urged the judiciary to adopt a gender sensitive approach while dispensing justice and it was the obligation of all stakeholders to harmonise gender equality and ensure careful balancing to protect the rights of women.
He said "good laws do not operate in void or vacuum but must reflect the social aspirations of the common man. Therfore, it is imperative that judges have a fair knowledge of the society which he has to serve as being socially sensitised is a better armour."
Referring to both judges and lawyers as "sentinels of judiciary," he said that though they were not elected by people but have an important role to play in service of common people and both have the duty to prevent abuse of power and ensure effective justice."
He urged judges to be fair throughout their career and not to travel outside the realms of the Constitution as "they are under the Constitution and not over it."
He said judicial functions in the presenet scenario was challenging but a judge would have to exercise administrative control that the Constitution bestowed upon them.
"A judge must intelligently as well as ingeniously motivate the subordinate courts and the bar with the firm message that their ultimate goal is to render service to the people as this will reflect the judiciary`s role in the well- being of democracy," Sathasivam added.
He also urged lawyers to take advantage of the Public Interest Litigations (PIL) to ensure justice for the disadvantaged sections but not abuse it by filing frivolous cases with ulterior motives.
The function was attended among others by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Supreme Court judges J Chellameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and AK Patnaik, Gauhati High Court Chief Justice AK Goel, Assam Legislative assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi and Law Minister Tanka Bahadur Rai.