The Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, slammed electronic media for running Kangaroo courts and said ill-informed and agenda-driven debates on issues involving justice delivery were affecting the health of democracy.
“Of late, we see the media running kangaroo courts. At times, on certain issues, even experienced judges find it difficult to decide. Ill-informed and agenda-driven debates on issues involving justice delivery are proving to be detrimental to the health of democracy.”
He was delivering the inaugural Justice SB Sinha Memorial Lecture on ‘Life of a Judge’ being organised by the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi.
CJI came down heavily on the media and said it was taking democracy two steps backward, “By overstepping and breaching your responsibilities, you are taking our democracy two steps backward. Print media still have a certain degree of accountability, whereas electronic media have zero accountability.”
The remarks assume significance as they came after the remarks made by two other judges of the top court in the suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma after her remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
Speaking about the increase in physical attacks on judges, Justice Ramana asserted that while politicians, bureaucrats, police officers, and other public representatives were often provided with security even after their retirement owing to the sensitiveness of their jobs, “Ironically, judges are not extended similar protection”.
“These days, we are witnessing an increasing number of physical attacks on judges. Judges have to live in the same society as the people that they have convicted, without any security or assurance of safety,” CJI said.
CJI Ramana also pointed out that the biggest challenge before the current day judiciary was prioritising matters for adjudication.
“The judges can’t turn a blind eye to social realities. The judge has to give priority to pressing matters in order to save the system from avoidable conflicts and burdens,” CJI said.
Ramana added that non-filling up of judicial vacancies and not improving the infrastructure were the main reasons for the pendency of cases in the country.
While explaining how difficult the life of a judge is, Justice Ramana revealed that he was keen on joining active politics, but destiny had a different thing in store for him.
“I was keen on joining active politics, but destiny desired otherwise. The decision to give up something for which I had worked so hard was not easy at all”, he said. The CJI also added that he never regretted being a judge.
“On a personal note, yes, the opportunity to serve as a Judge came with tremendous challenges, but I have never regretted a single day. It is definitely not a service but a calling,” he said.
CJI said that over the years, he built his career and life around people. But after joining the bench, one has to give up his social connections.
Highlighting that the life of a judge is not easy, CJI said, “The judges work even on weekends and holidays and miss out on many joys of life, including important family functions. At times, I wonder if my grandchildren would recognise me at all after failing to see them for days together.”
“It is not easy to prepare for more than 100 cases every week, listen to novel arguments, do independent research, and author judgments, while also dealing with the various administrative duties of a judge, particularly of a senior judge. A person who has no connection with the profession cannot even imagine the number of hours that go into preparation.”
“We spend many hours reading paper books and making notes about matters listed for the next day. Preparation for the next day begins soon after the court rises, and will go on beyond midnight on most days. We continue to work even during weekends and court holidays to do research and author pending judgments. In this process, we miss out on many joys of our lives.”
“Sometimes, we miss out on important family events. At times, I wonder if my grandchildren would recognise me at all after failing to see them for days together,” CJI said, adding that while stressing that when false narratives are created about the supposed easy life led by judges, it is difficult to swallow.
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