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Sunday, April 21, 2024

We are at the Threshold of a Momentous Era of Our Country – CJ K. Sripavan

[Justice K. Sripavan taking oath as Chief Justice]
As all of you are aware that, in a democratic government, the power of the judiciary depends largely on its reputation for independence, integrity and wisdom. The strength of the Judiciary entirely consists in the moral allegiance which it can evoke by the hold it has over the hearts of the people and in this respect it may be borne in mind that a good Bench means a good and efficient Bar. Both lawyers and judges ought to be conscious of the radical change that is taking place in the fundamental aspects of law. The future holds a challenge for all members of our profession; for the law must be stable it cannot be static. Changing times throw down new challenges and changing situations pose new problems. Since we are standing on the threshold of a momentous era in the history of our country, the work we are doing at present, and will do in the future should amount to a substantial contribution in shaping the future of the country.

The members of the legal profession should strive to occupy a prominent place in the hearts of the people and the public life of the country. Thus, the strength and stability of a democratic state rests upon the vision and wisdom of its legislature, the efficiency of the Executive and the integrity, impartiality and independence of its Judiciary.

It is now well settled that rule of law demands that powers vested in the State are not to be used in a capricious, unreasonable and arbitrary manner. It is a fundamental principle of our Constitution that every organ of the State derives its power from the Constitution and this Court is assigned the delicate task to determine what is the power conferred on each branch of the Government and whether any action of the branch transgresses such limits. It is for the judiciary to uphold the constitutional values and to enforce constitutional limitations. That is the essence of the rule of law. The fundamental right to move this Court can, therefore, be appropriately described as the corner-stone of the democratic edifice raised by the Constitution. It is significant to note that the “Directive Principles of State Policy” which is described as “the social conscience of the Constitution” are in the nature of an instrument of instructions which both the Legislature and Executive must respect and follow. These provisions are part and parcel of our Constitution and it is the duty of this Court to take due recognition of them and make proper allowance for their operation.

It may be appropriate to lay down the correct proposition of law as quoted by Justice Sen in the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha Vs Union of India (AIR 1984 SC 802)

    ”We have to bear in mind that in this land of ours, there are persons without education, without means and without opportunities and they also are entitled to full protection of their rights or privileges which the Constitution affords When this Court is approached on behalf of this class of people for enforcement of fundamental rights of which they have been deprived and of which they are equally entitled to enjoy, it becomes the special responsibility of this Court to see that justice is not denied to them and the disadvantageous position in which they are placed do not stand in the way of their getting justice from this Court.

This observation made by the Indian Supreme Court applies with equal force to our jurisdiction as well. In other words, it is not merely a right of an individual to move the Supreme Court but also the responsibility of the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights. It is not only the right and power but also the duty and obligation of this Court to see the fundamental right of every citizen is protected and safeguarded.

As noted by Judge C.G. Weeramantry in his monumental work titled, Towards One World, this Court has been the repository of the confidence of our people who have always known that neither fear nor favour, neither wealth nor power nor influence will stand between them and the assertion of their rights. That has been the tradition of our Courts and so may it ever remain. So may also the greatness, dignity and authority that have hitherto distinguished our Courts, abide with them through the years to come.

It is the privileged function of the members of the Bar to lend, aid and assistance to the Courts in upholding the best democratic traditions in regard to administration of justice. A duty to assist the Court to the utmost of its skill and ability in the proper manner is considered to be of a paramount duty of each and every lawyer. It cannot be forgotten that the exalted position which judges enjoy today is the result of the joint contribution made by members of the Bar and the Bench. Courts have no Police; no Army; no power of the purse. While the administration of justice draws its legal sanction from the Constitution, its credibility rests in the faith of the people.

Indispensable to that faith is the independence of the judiciary. Public confidence in the administration of justice is imperative to its effectiveness, because ultimately the ready acceptance of a judicial verdict gives relevance to the judicial system. We should always try to see that our Courts of law should be Temples of Justice and it is our proud privilege to work together in order to make democracy of our country to be the best symbol and emblem for the whole region. And, for all of you assembled here, this is a day which I will treasure in my memory during my lifetime. Adorning the Bench with my Brothers and Sisters is a piece of rare good fortune. Chief Justice Stone of the Supreme Court of America once said; “Precisely because judicial power is unfettered, judicial responsibility should be discharged with finer conscience and humility than that of any other agency of Government.

I am conscious of the onerous responsibilities fallen on my shoulders with the assumption of my duties as the ‘Chief Justice’. With the co-operation of my judicial and professional colleagues, I look forward to a happy association in which all of us shall in a spirit of friendship continue to serve the cause of justice to which we all, Bench and Bar alike are dedicated.

– (From the Chief Justice K. Sripavan’address at the ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court)


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