President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that law-breakers should be dealt with “swiftly and effectively” to maintain equilibrium in society and thereby gain the confidence of people in the judicial institutions.

Speaking in the backdrop of a nationwide outrage over atrocities against women, specially the death of a Delhi gang rape victim, Mr. Mukherjee said, “The judiciary has to ensure that those who are on the wrong side of the law are dealt with swiftly and effectively to maintain social balance.”

Addressing the sesquicentennial celebrations of Calcutta High Court, the President acknowledged that for a country of a large population of 1.2 billion, the judicial institutions had the unenviable task of delivering timely, affordable and quality justice to all its citizens.

“Though, the Indian judiciary has preserved its pre-eminent place in Indian democracy, one area where it has lagged behind is in not fully meeting the aspirations of the people and provide quick, speedy and accessible justice to those who knock at its doors,” Mr. Mukherjee noted.

The President also advocated the need for maintaining the independence of the judiciary while at the same time maintaining the delicate balance.

“The independence of the judiciary is the cornerstone of our democracy. Everything necessary needs to be done to reserve and protect the independence of our judiciary. But, needs to be done while maintaining the delicate balance of power enshrined in the Constitution,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Maintaining that it was important for each organ of the government to operate within its own sphere, the President said, “While exercise of powers of the legislature and executive are subject to judicial review, the only check on the judiciary’s exercise of powers is the self-imposed discipline and self restraint.”

He also reminded that the Constitution was supreme and not any one of its creations -- the legislature, executive or judiciary.

He hoped that both the state governments and the central government would be committed to making sure that funds were not a constraint in implementing the initiative for delivery of justice.

He stressed on filling up vacancies in courts across the country which, he said, should be taken up on a priority basis and that the selection must be on transparent principles.

Calling for speedy disposal of cases, he said, “The Calcutta High Court today has 41 judges against the sanctioned strength of 58. There are 3.47 lakh cases pending as on December 2011. The pendency in the subordinate courts is an estimated 26 lakh and more than 21 lakh of them are criminal cases.

The President expects the number of initiatives by Union government, including the e-court mission project, to help in speedy disposal of cases.

Another important judicial reform which is underway, he pointed out, was in regard to court procedures and court processes.

“The Supreme Court has notified a National Court Management System for addressing issues of case management and court management, for setting up measurable standards for performance of the courts and laying down a National System for judiciary Statistics in the country,” Mukherjee said.

The sub-group under the chairmanship of Law Commission has been set up for taking a closer look at reforms in criminal justice system, Mukherjee observed.

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