Full text of the speech delivered by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India Shri Justice N V Ramana at the foundation stone laying ceremony at Madras High Court Chennai 23 April, 2022

Full text of the speech delivered by

Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India Shri Justice N V Ramana

at the foundation stone laying ceremony at

Madras High Court


23 April, 2022



I am very much pleased to visit the historic city of Chennai. It carries forward the traditions and cultures of various dynasties from several historical periods. Known as the ‘Gateway to South India’, it is one of India’s economic powerhouses. It is also one of the cultural capitals of the country with its rich tradition of arts, architecture, dance, music and cinema deeply embedded into the lives of the people.

Tamilians take deep pride in their identity, language, food and culture. They have always been at the forefront of protecting cultural and linguistic rights in the country. Even today, when people think about the linguistic diversity of India, the battle fought by Tamilians comes to one’s mind. As a child, when I visited my relatives in the city, I remember witnessing massive protests on the language issue, though I was too young to understand the issues involved.

The Madras High Court and the Madras Bar Association have a rich history of over one and half century. I belong to the neighbouring Telugu states which were once part of the combined State of Madras. The decisions, precedents, rules and procedures set by the combined Madras High Court still have an influence on both the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The illustrious members of the Bar and the Bench of the Madras High Court have immensely contributed to nation building and the advancement of social justice.

Shri Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Shri T.T. Krishnamachari and Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar were among those who actively assisted the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly led by Dr. B R Ambedkar. Many luminaries from the Madras Bar have contributed to the national movement and the politics of independent India.

Andhra Kesari Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu garu, who had the distinction of serving as the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency, and subsequently as the first Chief Minister of the Andhra State was also a product of this prestigious Bar.


Before plunging into the struggle for Swarajya in 1920s, Prakasam pantulu garu decided to give up his lucrative practice as barrister and never entered the High Court premises thereafter. The story of his challenge to a British soldier to shoot him if he can, bearing his chest to the gun, is legendary.

Shri Pakala Venkata Ramana Rao Rajamannar is another big name that comes to mind when we talk about Madras Bar. He had the distinction of becoming the first Indian Chief Justice of Madras High Court. He went on to serve for 13 long years in that capacity.

Shri R. Venkataraman went on to serve the country in various capacities before becoming the President of India. Justice M. Pathanjali Sastri came from the Madras Bar and went on to become the 2nd Chief Justice of India. I had the privilege of being chosen to the Bench of Supreme Court by the 40th Chief Justice of India Shri Justice Sathasivam garu who also was a member of this Bar. I hope I am able to live up to his expectations.

Sri. K. Parasaran is one of the jewels of this Bar. He has taught me several legal etiquettes. He will always be my revered guru.

The current Attorney General, Shri. K.K Venugopal, who is deeply respected by the Bar and the Bench alike, is a product of this bar.

Even today, the Madras Bar always takes the lead when it comes to advocacy, be it for protection of rights or for strengthening of institutions, particularly the judiciary.

During the last one year of my tenure as CJI, I have been highlighting various issues affecting our legal system in India.

The biggest issue affecting all institutions nowadays, including the judiciary, is ensuring sustained faith in the eyes of the public.

The judiciary is vested with immense constitutional responsibility of maintaining the rule of law and checking executive and legislative excesses. We have the duty of upholding and enforcing the constitutional values. It is no doubt, a heavy burden. But it is one that we have gladly chosen on the day we took our constitutional oath. This is the reason why strengthening judicial institutions has been my top priority. Strengthening the judiciary is imperative for a democracy, sustained on the rule of law.

Dispensing justice is not only a constitutional duty, but also a social one. Conflicts are inevitable for any society. But constructive resolution of conflict is integral to maintain the social order.

Constructive conflict resolution” is not a mere technical job. Particularly in a country like India, judges cannot blindly apply the rules, procedures and statutes. After all, conflicts have a human face. We are constantly aware about our duty to render justice, not merely procedural, but also substantial.

Before rendering any decision, the judges have to weigh several socio-economic factors and the impact of their decision on the society.

I firmly believe that the judiciary should never be viewed as a mere enforcer of law. It is an engine of social integration.

Judging is not an easy task. Judges should be aware of social realities. We have to carefully watch the changing social needs and expectations. The world is moving very fast. We are witnessing this change in every sphere of life. From 5 day test match we have moved on to 20-20 format. We prefer short duration entertainment over a 3-hour long movie. From filter coffee, we have moved on to instant coffee. In this era of instant noodles, people expect instant justice. But they do not realize that real justice will be a casualty if we strive for instant justice.

We judges have to sharpen our ideas and perceptions. We need to expand our knowledge base and adopt technology as an enabler. There cannot be a gap between the mind of a judge and the needs of the society. Ultimately, we are entrusted with the duty to deliver justice for all.

We must always remember the essence of Thirukural 541, and I quote:

“orndhu, kannodathu, iai purinthu, yaarmaaṭṭum

teyrntu, ceyvade muai”

Loosely translated in to English, it states-

“Investigating intensely,

leading fairly,

without unduly favouring anyone,

analysing and acting,

constitute justice.”

The people of this country look up to the judiciary in times of distress. They firmly believe that their rights will be protected by the courts. It is necessary to contemplate how to improve the functioning of the judiciary, how to reach out to the people and fulfil their justice needs.

This is precisely why I have been a strong proponent of “Indianization of the Justice Delivery System”. By Indianisation, I mean moulding the Indian Judicial System for the benefit of the Indian populace.

It is a multidimensional concept. It calls for inclusivity, providing access to people to participate in the proceedings, removal of language barrier, reforms in practice and procedure, development of  infrastructure, filling up of vacancies, augmenting the strength of judiciary and so on.

Infrastructural development forms one of the core ideas. With the expanding economy and growth in population, the number of litigations is rising alarmingly. But there is a severe gap between the existing infrastructure and the projected justice needs of the people.

Moreover, the existing infrastructure is far from being inclusive for all. Ever since I have assumed this office, strengthening judicial infrastructure: both in terms of manpower and physical infrastructure, has been on the top of my priorities. My career involved practice from the Magistrate Court to the Supreme Court. I am deeply aware about the problems being faced by the judges, advocates and litigants. Court functioning is greatly inhibited due to lack of infrastructure- both physical and personnel.

While certain states including Tamil Nadu have been actively working to augment their judicial infrastructure, several other states are in dire need of immediate attention.

That is the reason why I am championing the Judicial Infrastructure Authorities – both at national and state levels –  which will implement the National Court Development Project. I have already sent a comprehensive proposal in this regard to the Government of India.

Another co-related issue is that of the filling up of judicial vacancies, as well as increasing the sanctioned strength of judges. This is necessary to reduce the case load per judge and to improve the judge to population ratio.

As on today, out of 1104 sanctioned posts of High Court Judges, there are 388 vacancies. From day one, it has been my endeavour to fill judicial vacancies. In fact, my very first communication to the Chief Justices of the High Court was to request them to expedite the process of recommending names for elevation. Due to collective efforts at all levels, we could make considerable progress in the filling up of the judicial vacancies. After I assumed office, we made 180 recommendations so far, for appointments in High Courts. Out of this, 126 appointments were made. 54 proposals are awaiting approval by the government. The government has received nearly 100 proposals from various High Courts, which are yet to be transmitted to Supreme Court. I am hoping that the High Courts will expedite the process of sending the proposals to fill the remaining 212 vacancies.

Another issue I want to discuss is that of the language used in the courts. The common citizen of this country cannot relate to the practices, procedures and language of our Courts. Our efforts should be concentrated in making the general population an active part of the justice delivery process.

The parties must understand the ongoing process and development of their case. It should not be like chanting mantras in a wedding, which most of us do not understand.

From time to time, there have been demands from various regions to allow the usage of local language in the proceedings before the High Courts as provided for under Article 348 of the Constitution. A lot of debate has taken place on this subject.

There are certain barriers that have prevented local languages from being adopted in proceedings before the High Courts. I am sure, with innovation in science and technology, and advancements such as artificial intelligence, some of the issues associated with introduction of local languages in High Courts may be solved in the near future.

The practice of law before Constitutional Courts should be based on one’s intelligence and understanding of law, and not mere proficiency in language. It is time for some decision to be taken on this issue, after assessment of the pros and cons.

Inclusivity is one of the most important dimensions of Indianization. Any profession having representation from all classes and sections will be beneficial to all.

I have been a strong proponent of higher representation of women at all levels of the legal profession. Speaking of women particularly, we need women from all classes and all sections to find a place within the judicial system. As Mahakavi Bharati said more than a century back, and I quote:


“Aanum pennum nigarana kolvadaal

Arivilongi iv vaiyam thar(z)akkumam”


“The world will prosper in knowledge and intellect,

if both men and women are deemed equal”.


Inclusivity does not stop with only representation of women. The social and geographical diversity of the nation must find reflection at all levels of the judiciary. With the widest possible representation, people get to feel that it is their own judiciary.

Everyone has a voice in this system, and they form a substantial part of it. In fact, we are awaiting a day where a persons’ gender, orientation, birth or identity would not act as a barrier.

For example, a judge from rural background is better placed to appreciate issues concerning the rural population. A judge from a particular region understands the issues of that area better. A judge from marginalised sections understands the issues of the marginalised better.

Another aspect of inclusivity relates to the geographical barriers faced by both litigants and lawyers, while appearing before the Constitutional Courts. A member of this Bar, Senior Advocate and Member of Parliament, Shri P. Wilson has introduced a private member’s bill to enable setting up of Regional Benches of the Supreme Court. I am not aware if the Government of India has expressed its views on this subject.

But, in the same spirit of accessibility, I have, in consultation with brother and sister judges in the Supreme Court, continued with online hearing for miscellaneous days which we had started during the pandemic.

On non-miscellaneous days, advocates can still seek the permission of the Court to appear online. This is to enable advocates from all over the country to continue their practice before the Supreme Court. I hope this practise continues and is further strengthened in the future.

The Bar Council of India and the State Bar Associations have taken several steps to ameliorate the condition of lawyers during the pandemic. Soon after taking over as the Chief Justice of India, I had also taken up this and a host of other issues with the Hon’ble Union Minister of Law.

I appreciate the efforts of the Government of Tamil Nadu for extending a helping hand for the cause of lawyers.

I would like to compliment the Chief Minister, who is working hard for the bright future of the state. Chief Justice Mr. Bhandari informs me, that the Chief Minister and the government are extremely co-operative in his efforts to strengthen the judiciary.

My colleagues, and sons of the soil, Justice Ramasubramanian and Justice Sundresh who hail from this High Court, are a huge value addition to the Supreme Court. Justice Ramasubramanian is known for his legal acumen. This State has benefitted immensely from Justice Sundresh’s judgments till recently.

I would also like to congratulate the dynamic Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. I am sure, with your energy and dedication,  you will be able to take this historic high court to new heights. I am honoured to have unveiled a series of infrastructure project of Tamil Nadu judiciary.

I thank, the brother and sister judges for organising this event.

Before I end, I must extend my heartfelt gratitude to the members of Madras Bar. You are one of those who had the rare honour of being visited by Mahatma Gandhi ji during the freedom struggle. It is a testimony to your contribution to the freedom struggle. You have always stood by my side in times of need. You have been my strong pillar of support. I thank you very much.

Thank You all.


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