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CJI Bobde inaugurates new Patna High Court centenary building

Chief Justice of India Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde inaugurates the Shatabdi Bhavan of Patna High Court, in Patna.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Saturday called for reducing dependence on courts by encouraging parties to opt for “pre-litigation mediation” which has “a way of solving problems”, both civil and criminal, which arise from similar dispute.

He made the remarks in Patna while addressing a function where he inaugurated a new “centenary building” of the Patna High Court, in the presence of a host of dignitaries, including Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, among others.

“Litigation is fine and making provisions for litigation is fine. But it is time we resort to pre-litigation mediation”, said the CJI.

He said disputes solved through pre-litigation mediations “made a big difference to the feeling among disputants” besides reducing dependence upon courts.

“I was discussing with the Law Minister that the only thing lacking in a pre-litigation meditation was a force of law. This was being included since it is the essence of pre-litigation mediation”, the CJI added.

He observed that the need for new court buildings implied that there was an “increased legal literacy......which is necessary, without encouraging litigiousness and cantankerousness” and people were “increasingly approaching courts to settle their disputes, instead of taking the law into their own hands”.

Turning towards the Chief Minister who spoke earlier, the CJI expressed his admiration of “deep insight into the purpose of law, the purpose of the courts and the way he stated the principle of the theory of separation of powers, without mentioning it”.

“The theory of separation of powers does not imply a hostility between the branches of the government. And it is extremely elevating to hear such wonderful, realistic views which are absolutely in accordance with the Constitution”, said Mr. Bobde, thanking Nitish Kumar “on behalf of the judiciary” for “understanding the needs of the courts”.

Mr. Bobde also spoke about the judiciary being “heavily invested” in making use of technology for speedy dispensation of justice and sought to allay fears that the use of Artificial Intelligence in judicial work could affect “decision making” by the judges.

He spoke of the role played by technology in helping the courts function when physical interaction between judges, litigants and lawyers had become unfeasible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thankfully, we had in Ravi Shankar Prasad a Law Minister who also holds the portfolio for Electronics and Telecommunications”, the CJI remarked adding that this helped in bringing about a seamless transition in the working of courts.

He, however, noted with regret that the new style of functioning was not well received by many lawyers and litigants who showed signs of “unexplained depression and rage” because of which mental health clinics had to be set up at the Supreme Court.

Mr. Bobde said he felt a strong affinity with Bihar, having worked with innumerable judges from the State which “does not seem to me a new place, and I am happy to be here”.

He also made a mention of luminaries like first President Rajendra Prasad having practised here and two judges of the Patna High Court, Justice B.P. Sinha and Justice Lalit Mohan Sharma, having made it to the CJIs chair.

Comments against judges a disturbing new trend: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed strong disapproval of legal activists making objectionable comments about judges who do not pass favourable orders on their petitions, calling it a “disturbing new trend”.

“We can surely criticise the reasoning of a judgment. But, I foresee a new trend which I need to flag today”, Mr. Prasad said referring to “grossly unfair” comments on social media against judges by those who file PILs and feel aggrieved when the judgment is not favourable.

 Asserting that the judges of India, be they of the Supreme Court, the High Courts or the district courts must be given the freedom to decide a case as per their knowledge of the law and that though people were free to come up with their own analyses that was critical of a verdict, “trolling” and “agenda setting” were not acceptable.

 “I had been thinking of making my concerns public. I chose to do so here”, said Mr. Prasad who also made a mention of having practised, as a lawyer, at the Patna High Court and his current tenure as the local MP.

 The Union Minister also referred to the recently issued guidelines for using social media which was “long overdue”.

 “We are supportive of freedom. We are supportive of criticism. We are supportive of dissent, too. But, the issue is the misuse and abuse of social media. There should be a grievance redressal mechanism for someone who is abused on the social media”, he added.

 The Union Law Minister also spoke of the proposed establishment of All India Judicial Services, “a work in progress”, as part of which “the best minds” would be appointed as judges after cracking competitive exams held by the UPSC “under the direction of the Supreme Court.

 He also said that the government “wished to give proper reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs” which would make the judiciary more “inclusive”.

 Mr. Prasad also expressed satisfaction over the judiciary having risen to the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

 The total number of cases digitally heard across the country, till January 31, was a staggering 76.38 lakh. Of these 24.55 lakh were heard at the various High Courts, another 51.83 lakh at the district courts and 22,353 at the Apex Court. “It is a matter of some assurance and appreciation”, he asserted.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 1:21:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cji-bobde-inaugurates-new-patna-high-court-centenary-building/article33948847.ece

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