Condition Of Courts In India Is Not All Rosy And Pink: CJI Dipak Misra While Inaugurating Delhi HC's New Courts Block

Condition Of Courts In India Is Not All Rosy And Pink: CJI Dipak Misra While Inaugurating Delhi HC

After a wait of several months and much speculation on the cause of delay, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra finally inaugurated the New Courts Block of the Delhi High Court.

In his address, the CJI reminisced about his own tenure at the Delhi High Court and lauded it for the progress it has made so far, saying, "Whenever I visit the Delhi High Court, I feel a sense of nostalgia, as I have some fond memories of the time when I served here as the Chief Justice. Viewed from this context, it becomes a matter of great satisfaction for me to witness Delhi High Court progressing, leaps and bounds, on various fronts. Today, this progress is in the area of infrastructure as we all gather here for the inauguration of the new Extension building."

He then emphasized on the need for robust infrastructure for the judiciary, asserting that it must be "commensurate with its [judiciary's] constitutional obligation", adding, "The Courts in India perhaps see the highest footfall as compared to the Courts in other parts of the world. Our Courts cannot function effectively without having a robust infrastructure and other appending facilities. Any step towards establishing new and better infrastructure for our Courts brings with it a sense of achievement for us because we see it as a step closer in fulfilling the aim of ‘Access to Justice’."

The CJI however lamented the poor infrastructure of the courts in the country, blaming it for the ever-mounting arrears and backlog of cases, and asserting that "adequate judicial infrastructure is a sine qua non for capacity building which will help in reduction of pendency".

He went on to highlight the State's duty to not just provide for adequate judicial infrastructure, but also to ensure that the new buildings are technologically and ergonomically advanced to accommodate the Court staff, new generation of lawyers as well as litigants, all of whom are technologically savvy.

"It can be said without an iota of doubt that it is the imperative constitutional duty of the government of the day to provide to its citizens suitable judicial infrastructure so that the expression ‘Access to Justice’ does not remain a euphemism, and rather becomes a reality in the real sense of the term and the government must reflect its earnestness towards this end, through concrete efforts and measures," he added.

CJI Misra then noted that the new building being inaugurated is environment-friendly as well, and urged all High Courts to explore and invest in the concept of green buildings. He further appreciated the Delhi High Court's well-crafted plan for expansion, noting, "The approach of Delhi High Court in this regard is quite distinct and well planned. I am delighted to see that the Delhi High Court has not only earmarked its growing infrastructural need in advance, about half a decade ago, but also orchestrated a development-cum-environment friendly plan to increase the capacity of its court complex by 40% in four years from 2013 and to 60% by 2020.

This is a reflection of judiciously crafted scheme of infrastructural management. It gives me an additional pleasure that the High Court has taken due care to be cost-effective in expansion of its court complexes."

He concluded his speech with the words of Winston Churchill, who had said that "we shape our buildings and thereafter, they shape us". The CJI hoped that the new building will "help in shaping a better future of the legal fraternity of Delhi as well as of other stakeholders".

Also in attendance were Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & IT; Supreme Court Judges-- Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Arjan K. Sikri, Justice N.V. Ramana, and Justice SK Kaul; Mr. Anil Baijal, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi; Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi; Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court; Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, Judge, Delhi High Court; and Mr. Kirti Uppal, President, Delhi High Court Bar Association.

READ THE FULL TEXT OF CJI DIPAK MISRA'S SPEECH

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon’ble Union Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & IT, Government of India, Hon’ble Shri Justice Madan B. Lokur, Hon’ble Shri Justice Arjan K. Sikri, Hon’ble Shri Justice N.V. Ramana, Hon’ble Shri Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, my esteemed colleagues in the Supreme Court, Shri Anil Baijal, Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Hon’ble Ms. Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Hon’ble Shri Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, Judge, Delhi High Court, Hon’ble Judges of High Court of Delhi, Shri Kirti Uppal, President, Delhi High Court Bar Association, Learned Members of the Bar, Friends from the Electronic and Print Media, Ladies and Gentlemen. 

Whenever I visit the Delhi High Court, I feel a sense of nostalgia, as I have some fond memories of the time when I served here as the Chief Justice. Viewed from this context, it becomes a matter of great satisfaction for me to witness Delhi High Court progressing, leaps and bounds, on various fronts. Today, this progress is in the area of infrastructure as we all gather here for the inauguration of the new Extension building. 

When we talk about infrastructure for the judiciary, we must understand that a Court complex is not just a building but a place of great sanctity where the citizens of our great Nation hailing from even the remotest part of the country come with an expectation, a hope, an aspiration that he or she will get justice. Such hope of the citizens is likely to suffer a dent if they are confronted with pitiable conditions of court complexes.

 The Preamble of our inclusive Constitution as a lodestar sets the Constitutional goal for “We, the people”. The idea to secure justice, liberty and equality for the citizens of our country is the basic fundamental vision enshrined in the preamble. It is in this sense, the Judiciary attains the status of the most important pillar in our democratic setup. The responsibility for securing justice for the collective rests upon the shoulders of the Judiciary which makes it imperative for the Judiciary to have an infrastructure which commensurates with its constitutional obligation. 

The Courts in India perhaps see the highest footfall as compared to the Courts in other parts of the world. Our Courts cannot function effectively without having a robust infrastructure and other appending facilities. Any step towards establishing new and better infrastructure for our Courts brings with it a sense of achievement for us because we see it as a step closer in fulfilling the aim of ‘Access to Justice’.  This extended Court building of the Delhi High Court is another step towards facilitating greater ease to the people in accessing the Courts and seeking justice.    

With the growing need of additional infrastructure to accommodate increasing number of people in the courts, leading to shrinking space for record keeping, crumbling space for the court staff to operate, we often see that the courts indulge in adding an Annexe Building to meet its infrastructural needs.  The approach of Delhi High Court in this regard is quite distinct and well planned. I am delighted to see that the Delhi High Court has not only earmarked its growing infrastructural need in advance, about half a decade ago, but also orchestrated a development-cum-environment friendly plan to increase the capacity of its court complex by 40% in four years from 2013 and to 60% by 2020. This is a reflection of judiciously crafted scheme of infrastructural management. It gives me an additional pleasure that the High Court has taken due care to be cost-effective in expansion of its court complexes.

Courtrooms which are said to be the propellers of the giant ship of judicial infrastructure have been smartly designed embracing necessary architectural acoustics and aesthetics to suit the need of the judicial work which requires easy access, audible sound quality, vibrant environment and non-intimidating surroundings.

I must admit that the condition of infrastructure of the Courts in India is not all rosy and pink. Courts in the country do not have basic facilities for the litigants. Most of the subordinate courts of the country lack basic infrastructure for judges, court staff and litigants. It goes without saying that the most important factor contributing in a negative manner for the ever-mounting arrears and backlog of cases is the lack of adequate number of court rooms and other necessary infrastructure for the judiciary. Adequate judicial infrastructure is a sine qua non for capacity building which will help in reduction of pendency.

It can be said without an iota of doubt that it is the imperative constitutional duty of the government of the day to provide to its citizens suitable judicial infrastructure so that the expression ‘Access to Justice’ does not remain a euphemism, and rather becomes a reality in the real sense of the term and the government must reflect its earnestness towards this end, through concrete efforts and measures.

It is incumbent for the State to recognize the fact that if it fails to provide the judiciary with requisite infrastructure and staff then it would become impossible for the State to achieve the idealistic situation of timely dispensation of justice.

We must invest in the infrastructure of courts and Bar in tune with the future requirements. It is necessary to recognize the burning need of more Court complexes and other judicial infrastructure so as to enable the judiciary to rise with the tide of greater influx of cases.

 While expanding the existing Court complexes, we must make constant endeavors to ensure that the new buildings which are being erected are technologically and ergonomically advanced to accommodate the Court staff, new generation of lawyers as well as litigants, all of whom are technologically savvy. Without top of the line and most advanced information and communication tools, we cannot expect a State-of-the-art Court complex ready which can shoulder the responsibility for implementing our vision of justice for all.

While saying so, I have been apprised that the newly constructed extension building at the Delhi High Court is environmentally friendly and technologically advanced so as to accommodate the future needs of the Court staff, lawyers and litigants, alike. I urge other High Courts to follow on the footsteps of Delhi High Court and explore and invest in the concept of ‘Green Buildings’.        

I am happy to know that the High Court of Delhi is not only generating model ideas, but this High Court is also well executing those ideas and is delivering at a pace which I think serves as a trend for other States to follow. I am confident that opening of this new extension building will be a boon for the Court staff, the members of the bar and the litigants, in the sense that it will ease out the pressure of the heavy footfall in the existing building and offer extra space for all concerned which will go a long way in creating a friendly work environment.

The Delhi High Court as well as its the Bar Association have a rich heritage and have attained an envious stature on the legal map of the country. Both of them have a great legacy. I am sure in the future too it will transcend to greater heights.

To conclude I am reminded of saying by Winston Churchill who said that “We shape our buildings and thereafter, they shape us.”  I believe this new building will help in shaping a better future of the legal fraternity of Delhi as well as of other stakeholders.

 I wish a smooth functioning of this new extension building of the Delhi High Court and I hope it will break the traditional grievances of all concerned and contribute towards creating a conducive Court environment.

Thank You.