23 Sep 2023 9:07 AM GMT
"While the Constitution provides for separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, it also creates a space for institutions to learn from each other to deliver justice", said Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud highlighting the importance of the "spirit of collaboration" between institutions.Delivering an address at the inauguration of the Bar Council of...
"While the Constitution provides for separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, it also creates a space for institutions to learn from each other to deliver justice", said Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud highlighting the importance of the "spirit of collaboration" between institutions.
Delivering an address at the inauguration of the Bar Council of India International Lawyers' Conference 2023, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, "In our tendency to emphasise differences, we often forget the abundant examples of collaboration between the institutions to further the interests of justice".
In this context, he gave the example of Azad Rickshaw Pullers Union v. State of Punjab in which the validity of a legislation that mandated rickshaw pullers to be owners of the rickshaw they plied was under challenge before the Supreme Court. The CJI underlined that instead of an adversarial approach, the Supreme Court and the government worked together for a solution. He also cited a paragraph from the judgement which reads as under–
"The State by exercising its legislative power alone, could not produce justice until this formula was hammered out. The Court with its process of justice alone could not produce a viable project. But now, justice and power have come together and, hopefully. we have fulfilled the words of Blaise Pascal, "Justice without power is inefficient; power without justice is tyranny. Justice and power must, therefore, be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just."
CJI continued, "I am sure that the learned Attorney General and the learned Solicitor General present in the audience will agree that this spirit of collaboration between the court and the government exist even today". To illustrate, he gave the example of the hearing on the Light Motor Vehicle Driving License issue, where a Supreme Court Constitution Bench urged the Union Government to consider if the matter could be resolved through amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 and policy changes. In this context, he said–
"Instead of viewing this as an adversarial challenge, the court and the government are collaborating to protect the livelihood of millions of drivers of this country."
"Our constitutional structure may place at different ends of the table, but our ultimate aim is the same - for the nation to progress and prosper", he highlighted.
He also stated that this collaboration between the government and the courts extends to administrative field as well.
"The Supreme Court's e-committee is not working in isolation but in cooperation with other forms of government institutions. Just last week a meeting of the union cabinet chaired by the PM approved phase III of the e-courts project with a financial outlay of Rs 7000 crores."
He said that the e-courts project is a "perfect example of institutions collaborating" to make justice accessible.
In his address, the CJI underscored the importance of global legal collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and engagement with diverse legal perspectives. In his address, he spoke of collaboration even between the government and the court as well as between judges of different opinions. He drew parallels between the drafting of the Constitution, which engaged beyond partisan lines, and the recent passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in the parliament, celebrating the bipartisan effort involved.
He began his address by emphasizing that there is much to be learned from different jurisdictions, perspectives, and, most importantly, from each other. The CJI acknowledged the complexity of justice delivery and recognized that it is utopian to expect perfect solutions and no challenges. However, he underlined that it is not utopian to aspire for a world where nations, institutions, and individuals are open to engaging with one another. Further, he highlighted the rich tradition of India engaging with foreign constitutions and precedents, from the drafting to the adjudicating stages. He noted that India's openness to drawing from foreign experiences is rooted in the perception of its constitution as a transformative document.
"From drafting to adjudicating, India has a rich tradition of engaging with foreign constitutions and precedents. Our openness to draw from foreign experiences is rooted in our perception of our constitution as a transformative document," he said.
In this context, the CJI cited the example of India's relatively new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and how the country has drawn extensively from jurisdictions such as the UK, US, Australia, and Singapore, showcasing the importance of knowledge sharing in international law. Calling knowledge sharing a "two-way street", he also mentioned that the Indian Supreme Court is regularly cited by foreign courts, indicating the global influence of Indian legal jurisprudence.
CJI Chandrachud then underlined the importance of administrative collaboration and highlighted India's contribution to constructing Supreme Court buildings in Mauritius and Bhutan as instances of international collaboration in the legal sphere. He also mentioned signing an MoU with the Chief Justice of Singapore Supreme Court as a recent example of such collaboration. He said–
"Indeed, nothing explains this push towards engagement across nations better than the slogan for our recently concluded G-20 summit- 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam'- the world is one family."
CJI Chandrachud concluded by emphasizing the need for India to have a global reach, echoing the conference's theme of international legal collaboration.
PM Narendra Modi, Attorney General for India R Venkataramani, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta and Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal also spoke at the event. A report on PM Modi's address can be found here.