Court acts as protector of fundamental rights and freedoms: CJI Chandrachud
Addressing an event to mark the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice said, ‘If we look at the history of this Court, we come to know that the history of the Supreme Court is the history of the daily life struggles of the Indian people. ‘ Referring to the matters being listed for daily hearing, he said that the pulse of the nation can be felt through this list. Above all, the message of this uniquely citizen-centric initiative is an assurance that the courts exist to protect our citizens from injustice, their liberty is precious to us, and judges work in close association with citizens, he added. ‘
CJI Chandrachud emphasized that there is no big or small matter for the court, every matter is important, as issues of constitutional and jurisprudential importance come to the fore in small matters involving grievances of citizens. He said, “By disposing of such grievances, the court discharges its constitutional duty, obligation and normal functioning, the Supreme Court serves the world’s most populous democracy and is truly a ‘people’s court’ as it is India.” It is the collective heritage of the citizens of India.
The CJI said that the court has also ensured that the administration of criminal justice is not divorced from the framework of human rights. He said, “For example, the death penalty has been considered legal, but the Supreme Court has laid down a number of serious circumstances that must be taken into account by the judge before awarding the death sentence.”
“It ensures fairness in the process. Psychiatric evaluation of death row convicts has a human impact on the law. Thus, the Court has tried to humanize the law and use the language of the Constitution to act as a protector of fundamental rights and liberties. The Supreme Court has made constant efforts to ensure access to justice for all.
Citing Public Interest Litigation (PIL), he said that any person can approach constitutional courts in India for redressal of violation of fundamental rights of any individual. The Chief Justice said that, by doing so, the court opened its doors to people who were deprived of the means to approach the courts because of their social and economic disadvantage. It has provided a space for citizens to interact with the state on equal terms. In turn, the Court is exercising its jurisdiction to make ‘rule of law’ a daily reality for persons belonging to marginalized communities.
He also said that in the recent budget, the Center has announced a provision of Rs 7,000 crore for the third phase of the e-courts project. This, CJI Chandrachud said, would help in increasing the reach of judicial institutions and improve the efficiency of the justice delivery system in India. Such efforts will ensure that the courts truly reach each and every citizen of our country.
He also informed that between March 23, 2020 to October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court alone heard 3.37 lakh cases through video conferencing. Singapore’s Chief Justice Justice Sundaresh Menon also delivered a lecture on ‘Role of Judiciary in a Changing World’. The Supreme Court came into existence on January 28, 1950, two days after India became a republic on January 26.