Today's Paper

Court fees rationalisation likely

MADURAI, JULY 24. The Union Minister for Law, H. R. Bhardwaj, today hinted at rationalisation of court fees to make justice accessible and less expensive to poor litigants.

"After 50 years of Independence, the poor litigant remains ignored and is dependent on free legal aid. Our commitment to provide speedy and inexpensive justice is still not fulfilled. We are thinking of rationalising court fees," he said at the inauguration of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court here.

Judges appointment

Mr. Bhardwaj said there was an urgent need for expediting the proposals for appointment of judges of High Courts. There was an acute shortage in many States, including Tamil Nadu, where a large number of appointments were pending. "Please ask your constitutional authorities to speed up the appointment of judges. If the appointments are not made at the earliest, there will be a dearth of judges in the Madras High Court and the Madurai Bench."

Pointing to the agitation by the Madras High Court Advocates' Association and the Madurai Bar Association over the territorial jurisdiction of the Madurai Bench, he said there should be no conflict between advocates. "This is the place of Kannagi, who took up the cause of justice. Going by Indian ethos, justice is synonymous with truth. When issues can be sorted out across the table, why delay good things?"

While the Government had the duty to provide funds and infrastructure, it was the duty of the advocates to ensure the delivery of quality justice.

Inaugurating the Bench, the Chief Justice of India, R.C. Lahoti, said the establishment of the Bench would enable the people in the region to have easier and quicker access to justice. The Madras High Court had a rich tradition and the Madurai Bench should nurture it and set exemplary standards for others to emulate.

Lawyers' agitation

Mr. Justice Lahoti said he was pained at the agitations by lawyers in Chennai and Madurai over distribution of work. "Two power organisations, both comprising respectable members of the Bar, were almost fighting against each other which resulted in the suspension of court work much to the chagrin of the litigants. We must remember that courts are meant neither for the judges nor the advocates. They are primarily meant to serve the litigants who are the real consumers of justice."

However, the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court constituted a committee of judges to take a decision acceptable to all and reallocate work between the principal seat and the Bench. "You should have waited for that decision." The Bench had become functional from today and adjustments/rethinking in the matter of distribution of business between the two seats was always open for consideration. "The establishment of the Madurai Bench is a sacred event blessed with divinity. I thank the Bar for agreeing to suspend the agitation. We ought to calmly find solutions to our problems," Mr. Justice Lahoti said.

Earlier, he unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and declared open the Madurai Bench. A host of dignitaries, including the Union Minister of State for Law, K. Venkatapathy; the Tamil Nadu Law Minister, D. Jayakumar; the Supreme Court judges, Shivaraj V. Patil, AR. Lakshmanan, and K.G. Balakrishnan; and the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, B. Subhashan Reddy, participated in the function.

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