The Chief Justice said both judges and lawyers have to create an environment which is comforting for the litigants and other stakeholders.

Besides, judgments are either too long or technical or manage to be both, the Chief Justice said.

It is time for courts to wake up from their colonial stupor and face the practical realities of Indian society.

“The need of the hour is Indianisation of our legal system,” Chief Justice Ramana said.

Rules and procedures of justice delivery should be made simple. The ordinary, poor and rural Indian should not be scared of judges or the courts.

He should not think twice before approaching the courts. “He should be able to speak the truth,” Chief Justice Ramana said.

Multiple barriers
Instead, multiple barriers continue to thwart the citizen’s way to the courts.

“The working and the style of courts do not sit well with the complexities of India,” he said.

The systems, practices and rules of courts are foreign and sourced from our colonial days. They do not take care of the practical realities of India.

“When I say Indianisation, I mean the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and localise our justice delivery systems. For example, parties from a rural place fighting a family dispute are usually made to feel out of place in the court. They do not understand the arguments or pleadings which are mostly in English, a language alien to them. These days judgments have become lengthy, which further complicates the position of litigants. For the parties to understand the implications of a judgment, they are forced to spend more money.”

For whom do the courts function, the CJI asked. For the litigants, who are the “justice seekers”. They are the ultimate beneficiaries, the top judge said.

“The simplification of justice delivery should be our pressing concern. It is crucial to make justice delivery more transparent, accessible and effective. Procedural barriers often undermine access to justice,” the CJI said.

The Chief Justice said both judges and lawyers have to create an environment which is comforting for the litigants and other stakeholders.

Alternate dispute mechanisms
The CJI said alternate dispute mechanisms like mediation and conciliation would go a long way in reducing pendency, unnecessary litigation and save resources.

Chief Justice Ramana quoted former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger, “The notion that ordinary people want black robed judges, well-dressed lawyers in fine courtrooms as settings to resolve their disputes is incorrect. People with problems, like people with pains, want relief and they want it as quickly and inexpensively as possible.”

The CJI was speaking at an event organised by the Karnataka Bar Council to pay tribute to the late Supreme Court judge, Justice M.M. Shantanagoudar.

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