Senior Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday said that various sterling judgments of the apex court have not translated into success and rather “on the ground, it appears to be a descent into chaos”.
Speaking on ‘Vision of Justice’ at the 3rd Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture here, Mr. Gogoi agreed that while independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy’s first line of defence, in today’s context “even independent journalists and sometimes noisy judges” were necessary.
Mr. Gogoi, who was part of a group of four senior judges of the top court that had in January mounted a revolt against the Chief Justice of India on allotment of sensitive cases, by holding an unprecedented press conference on the issue, remarked that various apex court verdicts protecting speech and expression, delivered in the light of the rights of the Press, has not translated into reality.
‘Vision of Justice’
“The ‘Vision of Justice’ was indeed attained in the courtroom. Not once, but multiple times… But has the success of these sterling verdicts reached the ground? I will let the facts speak for themselves,” Mr. Gogoi said.
He held the 2015 landmark verdict in Shreya Singhal’s case as an example, in which the apex court had held that the public’s right to know was directly affected by Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
“It is worrisome on all counts when you sue the messenger or when you shoot the messenger, or when the messenger itself declines to deliver the message because of the fear psychosis,” Mr. Gogoi said.
He said it was not a reform but a “revolution is what it needs, to be able to meet the challenges on the ground and to keep this institution serviceable for a common man and relevant for the nation.”
“For the effectiveness of the judgements to show, the justice dispensation system has to be made more result-oriented i.e., to say, more focussed on enforcement,” said Mr. Gogoi.
He also emphasised on the need for tolerance in today’s world while quoting from a 1986 Supreme Court verdict which said, “The real test of a true democracy is the ability of even an insignificant minority to find its identity under the country’s Constitution”.
“The judiciary today is not a poor workman who blames his tools, but it is a workman with no tools,” he said, adding: “I will only ask and request those at the helm to finally listen so that we must not have to begin again.”
Mr. Gogoi also said that there is a pressing need to explore the “endless limits of legal services mechanism”.
The judiciary today is not a poor workman who blames his tools, but it is a workman with no tools…I will only ask and request those at the helm to finally listen so that we must not have to begin again
Justice Ranjan Gogoi
Supreme Court judge
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