Lawmakers ignore impact of laws on society: Chief Justice of India

Many people believe courts make laws, need to clear such misconceptions, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said

Lawmakers do not care to assess the impact their laws will have on the society, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said on Saturday.

“Legislature does not conduct studies or assess the impact of the laws that it passes. This sometimes leads to big issues,” the CJI said in his address at the closing ceremony of the Constitution Day celebrations.

The Chief Justice said “many people” misunderstand the role of the judiciary. For one, they think courts make the laws, the CJI said.

“We need to clear the prevailing misconceptions. For example, many people in this country believe that it is the courts which make the laws… People need to know the scope and limitations of the roles ascribed to the different organs of the State,” Chief Justice Ramana said.

The CJI had clarified on Friday, at the opening ceremony of the celebrations, that courts intervene not to usurp the role of the government, but to nudge it towards the right path.

The CJI’s words come at the end of a year which saw the Supreme Court intervene on issues as varied as vaccination programme for COVID-19, distribution of oxygen to Delhi’s dying citizens to setting up the Justice R.V. Raveendran expert committee to enquire into Pegasus spyware allegations and appointing a retired High Court judge to monitor the Lakhimpur Kheri killing of farmers and civilians in which a prime accused is the son of a Union Minister.

On Saturday, Chief Justice Ramana said the government should give thought to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal’s view that the judicial hierarchy needs to be restructured to include four National Courts of Appeals across the country.

These appellate courts would act as a buffer between the State High Courts and the Supreme Court. They would absorb ordinary appeals from the High Courts, not involving constitutional questions of law, and decide them finally. These courts, manned by 15 judges each, would stem the flow of all and sundry cases to the apex court and reduce pendency to a great extent.

Mr. Venugopal wanted both the government and the judiciary to “put their heads together” and make National Courts of Appeals come true.

“The Attorney General’s suggestions yesterday were enlightening. While highlighting the issue of judicial pendency, he proposed the restructuring of the judicial system and altering the hierarchy of the Courts. This is something that merits consideration by the government,” the country’s top judge acknowledged.

He said the hierarchy has remained stagnant since the country won freedom from the British rule.

“Since Independence, I do not think there has been a serious study to consider what exactly should be the structural hierarchy of judiciary in India,” the CJI said.

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