Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Monday said the District Courts formed the core of the Indian Judiciary and stressed on its development through better infrastructure and by giving respect to District Judges.
Speaking during his felicitation function, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) at the Supreme Court premises, CJI Dr. Chandrachud said, “We need to change the face of District Courts. We have fostered this culture of subordinates, which is reminiscent of the colonial mindset. The District Judges are called subordinates. This practice needs to be stopped. The District Judges do not dare to sit before the High Court judges.”
“When I was a Judge at the Bombay High Court, I would ask the District Judges to have a seat. Even judicial officers deserve respect. We should move towards a more modern and equal judiciary,” he added.
CJI Chandrachud said the facilities in district courts were pitiable while listing out the sorry state of infrastructure in courts under the Allahabad High Court. He said women judicial officers did not even have toilets in courts.
Stating that he was not here to do miracles given the high expectations from him, CJI Chandrachud reiterated his statement on the day he was sworn in that he will let his work do the talking.
Talking about listing of cases, the CJI said he wanted to make the process transparent and objective, while introducing technology in it.
Reacting to the demands made by the SCBA and the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association soon after he took charge, the CJI said the demands made by the bar were very reasonable but added that accommodating them is the question. Nevertheless, the CJI said the demands will be looked into.
Earlier in his speech, the CJI recalled the learning he chanced upon by working with giants such as Fali S Nariman, Soli Sorabjee and other luminaries. The CJI said he had great respect for the bar and that the bar and the bench will have to work together to bring about change in the legal system.
Reminiscing his days as a young lawyer driving a 1966 model Ambassador car, the CJI said he would take longer routes while driving his seniors, so as to absorb more from their arguments and augment his legal skills.
On vacancies in the Supreme Court as well as various courts across the country, he said whenever a promising young lawyer appeared before him, when he was the Judge of the Supreme Court, he would have the instinct to elevate the person as Judge of the High Court.
The CJI further said that lawyers coming from different backgrounds brought with themselves varied experience, which could be tapped for making the Supreme Court work more effectively.
Stating that he had a list of lawyers in mind, Justice Chandrachud said he was sure that all his colleagues also had a similar lists and that he would discuss the same with the Chief Justices of High Courts.
He said he was just a stream, while the great Indian bar was the source and a stream can never rise above the source. He added that whatever he learnt at the feet of the great minds, made him what he is today.
Supreme Court Bar Association Vice President Pradeep Rai said the bar was 100 per cent with CJI Chandrachud and his vision.
Senior Advocate Rai said that as a second generation CJI, the Bar had huge expectations from Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
He said Justice Chandrachud learnt the nitty gritties of the legal profession from his father and the longest serving Chief Justice of India, Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud, who he treated as his friend, rather than a father.
Rai said the Junior Chandrachud was an avid cricket fan and his favourites over the years have been Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
The senior advocate said CJI Chandrachud wakes up at 3:30 am and has shown his brilliance, both as a lawyer and as a Judge.
The Vice-President of SCBA said, “Sir, the Bar gives you it’s 100 percent. We will be more than happy to interact with you, whenever given an opportunity.”
Calling him as a wonderful human being, Rai said CJI Chandrachud has adopted two girls, who get more love and care at his house than his sons.
He is a thorough gentleman, who is well-versed with the laws of the country and a brilliant academician, a trait which his son Chintan has acquired from him.
President of SCBA and Senior Advocate Vikas Singh said, “The President defends the laws, the Executive implements the laws and the Judiciary has to uphold the laws.”
The Executive is enjoined to work in accordance with the Constitution. If it fails to perform its duty, the Judiciary plays a very important role in upholding the laws laid down in the Constitution, he added.
Talking about the CJI, Singh said he was an avid fan of Kishori Amonkar, Indian classical vocalist belonging to the Jaipur gharana and his mother’s singing teacher. A young Chandrachud took an autograph of Amonkar, which said “Music musically leads to silence.”
Regarding elevation, Singh said the Bar does not want any favours, but if the Supreme Court lawyers deserve to be elevated, then they should get a fair chance.
The SCBA chief urged the CJI to consider the elevation of Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta to the Supreme Court.
Stating that the recommendation was made six weeks ago, Singh said the decision should not die down now since the Collegium composition has changed and must be carried through.