Supreme Court Judge Justice Deepak Gupta on Saturday delivered the concluding remarks at the International Judicial Conference which took place at the Additional Building Complex at the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi. The short speech was given post the keynote address which was delivered by Lord Robert John Reed, the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Justice Gupta touched upon the four broad topics which have been chosen for discussion during the conference, i.e. gender justice, populism, data communication and privacy, and climate change. He also emphasized the need for an interaction in the international area not only between governments, but also in the fields of business, art, culture, sports etc.
Apart from the four main topics which had been chosen for deliberation during the course of the Conference, Justice Gupta brought up the topics which could not find a place due to paucity of time, but were equally important.
"One of the topics which could not find place in this Conference is 'The Resolution of Cross Border Disputes by Arbitration or by Mediation'. Domestic disputes such as matrimonial disputes and disputes with regard to custody of children where the parties live in different jurisdictions also need to be addressed."
On the topic of gender justice, Justice Gupta concurred with the views put forward by Lord Reed and stated that Benches of the highest courts should be true reflections of our population. There is a need for the courts to reflect the populace and the diversity present in the country.
"For citizens of our countries to have faith in our decisions, it is important that the benches of our Constitutional Courts are a true reflection of our population, and this, as rightly pointed by Lord Reed cannot be done if if one gender occupies the majority of seats in our highest courts"
In raising this issue, Justice Gupta invoked the need for representation of transgenders, people from different religions etc.
"In our endeavour to create a 'Gender-Just' world, it is important that we remember that a gender just world is not only for men and women, but for transgenders too".
In the context of accessibility of the judiciary, Justice Gupta asserted that it was highly important for judges to be accessible to the public. He praised the existence of Public Interest Litigation jurisdiction as a means to break down the walls of inaccessibility between the judges and the litigants.
"We as judges cannot sit in 'ivory towers' and render decisions. It is important, as flagged by Lord Reed, for the population to feel connected to the judiciary. In India with the pioneering role played by the Supreme Court of India when we started entertaining public interest litigation and virtually abolished the principle of locus standi in public causes, the Court was able to establish a connect with the populace."
On environmental degradation, Justice Gupta hailed it as one of the biggest threats that was faced by humankind due to its transcendental nature of having its deleterious effects of various forms of population felt across boundaries. He contended that if the obligations (1.5-2-degree centigrade limit) under the Paris Agreement were not achieved, it could lead to humongous problems.
Rising sea levels and inundation of various coastal areas could spell trouble across the global, specifically for lesser developed countries and equatorial regions. Justice Gupta highlighted the human rights issues that could arise due to possible large-scale migrations which could lead to climate-change refugees. He emphasized the need for a new and dynamic interpretation of the Constitution and therefore, the development of a new jurisprudence, which could tackle these issues.
In this context, Justice Gupta praised the proactive role of the Supreme Court of India in protecting the environment.
"We have not waited for laws to be framed, and if there was a vacant field where a law did not exist, the superior courts in the country have not hesitated to issue directions to protect the environment. There has been a 'Forest Bench' in the Supreme Court for more than two decades."
Justice Gupta expressed happiness over the nature of continuing mandamus in cases of T.N. Godavarman and M.C. Mehta wherein various orders and judgements have been rendered for the protection of forests, and issues of air pollution, water pollution etc. respectively.
On the last topic regarding issues arising out of increasing use of internet, Justice Gupta exhibited consternation as this use led to issues of privacy as well as large-scale expansion of pornographic websites, and development of the dark-web leading to child abuse and availability of weapons and drugs online.
"These are issues which not only impact every human being but these transactions are made across the countries and, therefore, there is a need to have a common global approach to tackle these evils which threaten the very social fabric of human kind."
In conclusion, Justice Deepak Gupta apprised the audience that in order to address global issues, such as that of poverty, a global perspective needs to be adopted and that this can be achieved "by breaking the domestic walls of territorial jurisdictions in a manner that human kind is the winner and not a particular section or part of the world."
Read The Full Text of Speech here