Justice TNK Singh, executive chairman of the Meghalaya State Legal Services Authority, the patron of which is Justice Uma Nath Singh, speaks to Rajshri Rai about his office being selected as the best legal service authority by the National Legal Service Authority instituted by the Supreme Court of India. A para-legal volunteer of Meghalaya, Ksanboklang Kharshiing, was given the best paralegal volunteer award. Justice Singh also talks about the challenges facing the judiciary.
Congratulations on the award. What were the challenges you face in your work?
Thank you. Meghalaya High Court is very young. It was established in March 2013. Meghalaya is covered by the Sixth Schedule. We may think that administration under this Schedule is simple, but it is complicated.
There are many restrictions under which we work in administering justice. Paralegal volunteers are the bridge between MLAs and villagers and in 2013-14, our effort will be on legal carriage support centers. The paralegal volunteer will act as a missionary and be dedicated. This is hard work as we have to give legal assistance to the needy.
There are crores of cases pending in courts all over India. Can a state-level authority and paralegal volunteers help reduce pending cases?
Yes, cases can easily be solved and decided if volunteers act as a bridge and pursue people in disputes to resolve them. Under the guidance of Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu and Justice TS Thakur, executive chairman of the National Legal Service Authority, this will be possible.
Meghalaya has a young court. Would this involve a lot of hard work?
Yes, as the High Court is young, we have to work more. But remember, when your shot is short, you have to go one step ahead. So we are trying to go a little ahead. We have to work harder and run faster.
How can the judiciary be more responsible and responsive to common people?
People in Meghalaya thought the judiciary would not help them after the establishment of the High Court. But they have now realized that judicial officers are experts and their aim is to help people. They need to have trust in the judiciary and the filing of cases is now good. But this was not so in the past when cases would move slowly. Now, cases can be decided quickly because of the establishment of a new High Court. Also, the present Meghalaya government has its heart in the right place. It is giving all cooperation for discharging administrative functions and the people are reaching out to us.
As you are from Meghalaya, do you feel the North-east is getting as much attention as it deserves?
The North-east region is very volatile and I feel the judiciary needs to pay more attention to it. The government at the center too should not neglect this region and ensure it gets its quota in everything. The government should look into these lacunae.
What are your views about the collegium system?
It is good, but I am not competent to comment on it. While the system itself is good, the question is how it will be implemented.
There are many controversies around the judiciary today. How can we make it less controversial?
The system functions quite well. In any case, one has to decide a case either in favor or against it. If a judgment is against someone, he will naturally say it is controversial. This is part of life. What we have to do is work honestly, fearlessly and effectively.
The rate of cyber crime is very high in India. Do you feel the judiciary is ready to face these challenges?
No. But the system is already taking up the challenge of cyber crime and CJI Dattu and Justice Thakur have already set up a consultative committee to see how to prevent it.
What are the challenges the judiciary is facing now?
The main issue is the right inclination to hasten cases. Justice should be delivered fast, not after 20 years, as has happened in certain cases in the Allahabad High Court.
How can the system be made more efficient?
Our democracy has a legislature, executive and judiciary. Good government will translate into cooperation between all these three limbs and good understanding among them will lead to good governance. India has one of the most powerful judiciaries in the world. We will try and maintain that status and not do anything to jeopard