Judicial reforms must not disturb power balance: Pranab

FP

President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday cautioned that reforms in the judicial system should not disturb the fine balance that exists between the legislature, executive and judiciary.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Recent Trends in Judicial Reforms: A Global Perspective', the President, while making a reference to judicial activism and the "wider role" assumed by the judiciary, said, "The assumption of this wider role has at times courted opposition for its deviation from the principles of separation of powers. Yet, some of the positive contributions that such activism has spawned are unquestionable. But I would need to add a cautionary note here — the fine balance existing in every democracy with each of the three organs of the state, the legislature, executive and judiciary, playing their designated roles should not be disrupted. The three organs should not step into or play the role that the Constitution has not assigned them."

The President also expressed concern over the huge pendency of cases, saying it amounts to denial of justice. "In India, justice is time consuming and expensive. The large pendency of court cases is a cause for concern. The total pendency in the subordinate courts and high courts at the end of the 2011 calendar year was over 3.1 crore cases. The pendency at the end of the 2012 calendar year in the Supreme Court was over 66,000 cases. Delay further adds to the costs. Therefore, in many ways, it amounts to denying justice and this is against the principle of equality that is the bedrock of democracy," he said.

Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who also addressed the seminar, told reporters that the government was working on a proposal to change the present mechanism of appointment of judges by a collegium to make it more "representative" and "broadbased". He said though it was a "work in progress", the proposed body could have a nominee of the president and prime minister on board.

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