India Legal: Justice DY Chandrachud has taken charge as the chief justice of India. He will have a relatively longer tenure of two years as compared to other chief justices of the Supreme Court in this decade. As he takes office at a crucial juncture of judiciary, what are your expectations as the vice-president of the Supreme Court Bar Association?
Pradeep Rai: Justice Chandrachud has been an upright person, an extraordinary academician and an extraordinary judge and we have a lot of expectations from him. He has to handle a lot of problems as the CJI. He is working on many projects and this is my personal opinion that with his conduct and competence, he is going to do a lot. Expectations are very high not only from India, but also from abroad. Once he settles down in his new role, he will surely come out with laws which will be precedents not only in India, but in other parts of the world.
IL: Pendency is a major issue. Around 71,000 cases are pending in Supreme Court alone. In High Courts and lower courts, the number is still high. A strong initiative is needed to handle pendency. Cooperation of the Bar is also required. So what kind of challenge does Justice Chandrachud face in this area?
PR: Justice Lalit has streamlined so many things and he has carefully made a system of listing and that is highly commendable. As a result, the disposal of the matters is higher than the matters being filed. So, a part of the solution is in place. We have only to follow the existing system. Hence in Justice Chandrachud’s term, I don’t think pendency will be that pressing a concern. However, the pendency of matters is high because many matters are not being listed. In many matters, the defects have not been dealt with. But now, the Supreme Court has come out with a system.
Justice Chandrachud is an experienced judge. He has been the judge of the Bombay High Court and the chief justice of the Allahabad High Court; so he has handled two major High Courts. His experience at High Courts and as chairman of NALSA will stand in good stead as he faces these challenges. He is certainly going to achieve his goals and solve outstanding problems of the judiciary. We will also be giving him constructive and positive suggestions. I feel with our suggestions and support, and with his commendable experience, he will tide over problems . Time is also at his side. He has two years in hand and it will give him ample opportunity and space to perform. Justice Chandrachud can conceive any idea and implement it in this time frame.
IL: There’s another issue, that of listing. The Supreme Court registry has a lot of cases which have not come to the Court’s notice. The Supreme Court has taken serious note of the delay and has asked registry officials for answers. This is another problem which the CJI has to contend with.
PR: You see, listing was a problem due to Covid. Prior to Covid, listing was not a major issue. Now, as there is a pendency of two years and in the presence of so many other cases which were supposed to be listed and decided, but were not listed, the situation has slightly aggravated. However, now there has been a clear-cut policy line drawn and the same line should be followed by the other judges as well. Now that there is a proper system in place, the listing process has completely changed. The registrars have been transferred and the new system is functional. Also the help of technology is going to streamline the system of registry. I also feel that Justice Chandrachud, who has been the chairman of the e-committee for a long time is going to do something so that case targets can be achieved.
IL: Justice Chandrachud has been the chairperson of the E-committee and was also overseeing the e-court’s functioning for digitalization of courts. But it is a work in progress and Justice Chandrachud has to implement many initiatives. How do you see this challenge?
PR: Justice Chandrachud was the one to have the first E-court and the first court to deal with matters without paper. He also had the first computer court and that was his idea. He is known for exploring new ideas, so I feel he has already made some plans and will implement them. In this regard, many other persons have been consulted and the suggestions of many have been taken. This will prove helpful and I think he will be able to achieve his goals because he has time. Normally, judges don’t have enough time despite having brilliant ideas. Justice Chandrachud has the advantage of both, and will certainly achieve what he has set out to do.