Thursday, February 2, 2023

Justice NV Ramana’s speech on Constitution Day celebrations at the Supreme Court

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1. His Excellency the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.A. Bobde, the Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology, Hon’ble Judges (both sitting and retired) of the Supreme Court, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General of India, Mr. Tushar Mehta , Solicitor General of India and other Law Officers, Mr. Rakesh Khanna, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, other members of the Bar, dignitaries, colleagues and friends,
2. It is my privilege to welcome this august gathering on the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India. The Indian Constitution was an attempt to form a bridge between a past of divisions and deprivations, and a future dedicated to establishing an equal and just society.
3. 26th November is celebrated every year by the Supreme Court as “Constitution Day”. On this day we show our appreciation and respect for the framers of the Constitution. However, we must at the same time not forget the people who have worked hard to make the Constitutional ideals into reality. 1
4. At this juncture, I’m reminded of the words of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly, spoken exactly 70 years ago, on 26th November , 1949 (quote) – “ We have prepared a democratic Constitution. But successful working of democratic institutions requires in those who have to work them willingness to respect the view points of others, capacity for compromise and accommodation. … ” (unquote)
5. People must recognize that the Constitution not just provides rights, but also sets out Constitutional duties. Strengthening the Constitution requires improving the functioning and maintenance of the constitutional institutions. It also needs us to leave behind the colonial mindset with respect to how institutions are run in the country
6. Today’s function is an occasion to reemphasize our commitment to the Constitution, and to reflect upon and introspect about the past year. We must con sider the ways we can improve the Supreme Court’s functioning, as the final arbiter and interpreter of the Constitution. We must fashion new tools, forge new methods, innovate new strategies and evolve new jurisprudence to render just decisions and grant appropriate relief to achieve the constitutional objectives.
7. This year, we are extremely proud and fortunate to have with us His Excellency the President of India. His Excellency has always been extremely supportive of all our endeavors for which everyone here is extremely grateful. It is indisputable, that His Excellency has always been conscious of and concerned about a number of social issues. As an accomplished lawyer with more than 22 years at the bar, he has a deep understanding of the Indian legal system and has suggested measures to improve access to justice for all. For example, His Excellency suggested last year that judgments of this Court must be made available in vernacular languages. I am extremely proud to state that this has been made effective since July of this year, with judgments of the Supreme Court being made available in nine vernacular languages, with plans to make them available in more.
8. I must acknowledge the hard work being put in by Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.A. Bobde, the Chief Justice of India here. Not only is he working tirelessly to expand the number of languages in which the judgments of this Court are translated, but is also working towards translating other material on the Supreme Court so as to make the Supreme Court and the judicial system and process more accessible and understandable to the people.
9. We are also extremely privileged to have amongst our midst Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon’ble Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology. He has been instrumental in the many legal reforms over the past year to improve access to justice , which is necessary for a just society .
10. Let me also take this opportunity to welcome this august gathering, which includes many former and current judges, eminent jurists and distinguished persons , to the 70th Constitution Day celebrations.
11. Lastly, I would just like to finish this address by quoting Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (quote): “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good ” (unquote) It is our duty, while celebrating the Constitution, to constantly strive to ensure that in implementing the same , it is one that will continue to prove to be good. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be the case. Thank you, and Jai Hind.

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