President Ram Nath Kovind on February 23 hailed the efforts of the Indian judiciary in pursuing the “cherished goal of gender justice” and said that the Supreme Court has always been “pro-active and progressive”.
Speaking at the International Judicial Conference 2020 — ‘Judiciary and the Changing World’, the President said the apex court has led “progressive social transformation” and referred to the over two decades-old Vishaka guidelines for preventing sexual harassment of women at workplace.
“In pursuing the cherished goal of gender justice, to mention one example, the Supreme Court of India has always been pro-active and progressive,” Mr. Kovind said.
“From issuing guidelines on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace two decades ago to providing directives for granting equal status to women in the Army this month, the Supreme Court of India has led progressive social transformation,” the President said.
Mr. Kovind expressed happiness that judgments of the Supreme Court are being now made available in nine vernacular languages to make them accessible to common people and termed the effort as “extraordinary” keeping in mind the linguistic diversity of the nation.
“The Supreme Court of India also deserves admiration for carrying out many radical reforms that made justice more accessible to common people,” Mr. Kovind said.
He referred to the role of the judiciary in harmonising environmental protection and sustainable development, which get a lot of attention in various countries.
Dealing with the challenges faced by the judiciary in the wake of evolution of information technology, the president said that new questions like data protection and right to privacy have emerged.
He said landmark verdicts of the Supreme Court have strengthened the legal and constitutional framework of India and its bench and bar are known for their legal scholarship and intellectual wisdom.
“The recent move towards introducing an alternative dispute resolution mechanism is expected to reduce the burden on the court to a considerable extent,” he said, adding, “Dispute resolution through mediation and conciliation would help resolve the problem amicably in an effective manner instead of resorting to a lengthy litigation process.”
He said that courts in India have been adapting to new technologies and also considering the potential of artificial intelligence to speed up justice delivery.
“I am sure that the deliberations of the conference will help strengthen the judicial system not only in India but also in other countries,” he said during the conference at the Supreme Court.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde referred to the positive outcome of deliberations in the conference and said there has been a common thread which bind judges of various jurisdictions which is “a commitment to dispensation of justice”.
He said the judgments of the Supreme Court of India have been cited by other courts of the world and as a result, India has served as a “beacon of hope” to independent and developing nations.
The CJI also said that as per the desire of the President, the apex court has taken initiative to make available its judgments in nine vernacular languages to ensure that poor and deprived citizens are imparted justice.
He further said that job of the judiciary is not only to check who are in power but to empower deprived citizens.