Nation that does not respect its women can never prosper: Altamas Kabir
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He also laid emphasis on the need for having more judicial officers, better judicial infrastructure and setting up of mediation centres and tribunals to meet the challenge of growing number of litigations.
"A nation which can not ensure respect for its women, can never prosper. It is heartening to see that women are coming to the forefront in all walks of life. Steps like reservations in panchayats have enabled them to become sarpanch and take charge of their villages despite social prejudices," the CJI said here on the sidelines of a function organised by the Allahabad High Court on the 150th birth anniversary of renowned educationist, jurist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya.
Referring to the infamous Delhi gang rape case, Kabir said, "The December 16 incident left the entire nation shaken. Besides, every morning we wake up to find newspapers replete with stories of violence against women. Madan Mohan Malaviya had realised the need for uplifting the status of women decades ago and the ideal needs to be preserved."
The CJI also took note of the staggering pendency of cases in courts across the country and said, "Governments in states should take steps to increase, if needed even double, the number of judicial officers posted in districts."
He, however, added that such a measure will require commensurate upgradation of infrastructure.
"We can take the example of the Allahabad High Court where the sanctioned strength is 160 but the number of judges is about half of that. However, if we try to fill all vacant posts, it may not necessarily translate into better rate of disposal as there are not adequate number of chambers and court rooms. This also needs to be addressed."
Kabir underscored the role played by alternative forums in resolving legal tangles amid a massive number of litigations pending in various courts.
"Out of court settlements take considerable load off our over-worked courts. Various tribunals and mediation centres have come into being for the purpose and they are playing a very significant role.
"I can see a number of young lawyers and law students among the audience. For them I would like to invoke the Bar Council rules, which describe in detail, the manner in which advocates are supposed to conduct themselves.
"Upon entering the profession, lawyers must keep in mind that it is their duty to make people aware of their legal rights," the CJI added.
The Chief Justice of India asserted that "people from all religions must come together for nation-building".
In this respect, Pandit Malaviya led by example as he remained a staunch Hindu without becoming a bigot.
He became an epitome of what Swami Vivekananda - one of his eminent contemporaries - taught the world.
Among others who spoke on the occasion included senior Supreme Court judge Justice B S Chauhan and Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court Shiva Kirti Singh.