New Delhi: The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, today called for a corruption-free public life for achieving the dream of making India a developed nation by 2020.
Inaugurating a two-day national seminar on “Access to Justice”, organised by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association in association with the United Nations Development Programme, Dr. Kalam said that with the rising all-round awareness and a demand for a clean and corruption-free public life, the burning issue of probity in public life was increasingly coming into focus.
He said, “conduct and behaviour in public life are, like never before, under very close scrutiny”. It was essential that the three pillars of democracy – Legislature, Judiciary and Executive – “are strong in structure, pure in form and uncorrupted and unblemished in conduct”.
The President made it clear that “if we cannot make India corruption-free, then the vision of making the nation developed by 2020 would remain as a dream”.
In this context, the members of the Judiciary “become inviolable role models, the perfect incorruptible ideals of a civilised society”.
Dr. Kalam noted that “we have laws of the sea, air and environment” and intellectual property and cyber laws would get a new shape. However, he said, “there is a need of law for protection of Indian space above 30 km altitude as the international law on space may not be sufficient. The geo-synchronous orbit has become a competitive business orbit (above 38,000 km.)”.
Expressing concern over the huge pendency of cases in courts, the President said it was time that information and communication technology was used in legal dispute resolution at the grass root level.
The Chief Justice of India, V.N. Khare, who presided, said the country had 13,000 judicial officers as against the need for 75,000 officers to clear the backlog of pending cases. Despite problems, the Judiciary was making all efforts to reduce the backlog.
The Union Law Minister, Arun Jaitley, said that though several steps had been taken to provide access to justice, yet several important steps were needed.
The high cost of litigation and the long distance a litigant had to travel to reach a court of law were the two biggest impediments in the easy access to justice. Laws had to be simplified so that a litigant did not spend 10 years in court, he said adding that the alternative dispute redress mechanism had to be strengthened to ensure speedy justice.
The Attorney-General, Soli Sorabjee, wanted senior lawyers to volunteer to serve as a judge for an ad hoc period of six months to reduce the backlog and streamline the justice delivery system.
J. Venkatesan, The Hindu, January 27, 2004