I am very happy to listen to Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Manmohan Singh expressing their intention to correct our legal system and to restore the public perception of legal profession and the role of Judiciary in India. It is a fact that India can never be able to claim that it is developed unless we are able establish a reliable legal system in India. I don’t know as to why the legal system has been neglected so long and no sincere attempt has been made to bring the required reforms in our legal or judicial system. With great respect to Dr. Manmohan Singh, though it is true that initiative should come from the Bar Associations or from the Bar in general for reforms, it is the legislature or the ruling body of elected representatives who are responsible to the people of India. In my opinion, it is not right on the part of the Government to show some disturbances or the voice of vested interest groups, to say that the executive can do little to reform the system. Everything is for the people and these courts, lawyers, judges, the system, parliament and politicians are for the people and people are not for them.
I believe that only Central Government can not bring all the required reforms without the effective participation of concerned states. There are certain issues which can be handled very easily and there are certain issues which require long consultations with the concerned State Governments and the consensus. Rather looking at the complications in bringing all the required reforms, it is better to select certain reforms which can be brought with minimal effort. Even the Law Commission of India has submitted reports on the issue of judicial appointments, transfers, corruption, speedy justice, legal profession etc. It is also true that it may not be possible to immediately implement all the recommendations of the Law Commission with immediate effect. But, there are certain issues upon which the Government can act so quickly. Despite the repetition by the legal experts and the Law Commission that the legal professionals should not resort to strikes etc. as per the judgment of the Apex Court, it is very often seen that few legal professionals with vested interest and on illogical grounds resort to strikes etc. opposing the legal reforms. The Government should accordingly deal with these agitations and simply because there are agitations, Government should not go back in implementing the reforms for the public good.
I am very happy to see the initiative to make it mandatory for the fresh law graduates to undergo an All India Bar Council Examination so as to qualify for practice. It is a good move and initiative though we can not expect the needed change only with this move. For public good, if Government, after due consultations and expert opinion, takes a decision, then, it should implement the decision or reform at any cost if it is for public good. If lawyers go for strike opposing some reform on illogical grounds, then, it is better to deliver judgments listening to the litigant public and if need be protection can also be given. If once it is done, then, no one will dare to do politics or agitate over legal reforms on illogical grounds. There can not be any justification on the part of the lawyers to go for strike for the simple reason that they can approach the courts raising all their grievances. The law prescribed by the Government can very well be challenged before the Constitutional Courts and there are instances where the Courts have declared that a particular legislation is not correct and to be stayed.
It is the time for the Government to take note of the issues in legal system in India and act quickly. It is unfortunate that we could not even provide an effective website for the Judiciary though we have a website. Computerization is an issue which can be dealt with so easily by the Government or the Law Ministry and there is no much complication in this as I believe. Likewise, the issue of judicial appointments and collegium system can also be corrected and it is also recommended by the Law Commission in its report as I believe. Again, the issue of postings and the transfers of judges of High Courts can immediately be dealt-with. Again, in-line with the proposed All India Bar Council Examination, reforms in legal education can also be concentrated and effective steps can immediately be taken. Thus, the Law Ministry can immediately look into certain issues and can bring the required legal reforms in the system.
There are certain issues like funding, selection of judges to the lower courts etc.and these issues can only be concentrated in consultation with the State Governments. Again, when it comes to the issue of delay in courts, even the law commission has pointed out the delay on the part of the Government where the Government is also a party to the litigation. This issue can not be resolved overnight and it takes time.
Thus, in the public interest, what the Law Ministry should do now is to look at the recommendations of the Law Commission and the opinion of the reliable experts in the public domain and then, segregate the initiatives which can be taken with minimal effort from the complicated initiatives. If we look at the various complications while thinking of legal reforms, we can not even make a step forward and the system will get destroyed slowly. India requires a reliable and effective judicial system and it is the burden and responsibility of the Government concerned to ensure reliable and effective judicial mechanism in public interest.
I personally believe in UPA Government in bringing the needed reforms in the country and believe in the leadership. We have seen landmark reforms like RTA, Right to Education, Educational Reforms etc. and in those lines, it is also required to concentrate on legal reforms at any cost.
The important Law Commission Reports in my opinion:
214th Report of the Law Commission of India.
221st Report of the Law Commission of India.
230th Report of the Law Commission of India.
Note: the views expressed are my personal.
V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court.