Judicial Reforms

Four issues that CJI highlighted within Legal Profession

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adjournment of Court

Mains level : Issues with Judicial Functioning

cji

Introduction

  • During the Supreme Court’s 75th-year Foundation Day address, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) highlighted four crucial issues within the judiciary that require “difficult conversations.”
  • This article delves into these issues and their historical context.

Major Issues with Legal Profession

[1] Problem of “Adjournment Culture”

  • Definition: Adjournment culture refers to the practice of lawyers repeatedly seeking adjournments, delaying scheduled hearings.
  • Effect on Justice: Prolonged adjournments lead to case delays and contribute to the growing backlog of pending cases.
  • Legal Framework: Order XVII of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 sets rules for granting adjournments, limiting them to three times, with sufficient cause shown.
  • Vicious Cycle: Advocates exploit heavy workloads to seek adjournments, perpetuating delays.

[2] Managing Lengthy Oral Arguments

  • Constitutional Bench Matters: The court directs parties to schedule oral arguments to avoid repetition in important cases.
  • Mixed Success: Past cases, like the Ayodhya title dispute, had lengthy hearings despite scheduling.
  • Recent Improvements: Under CJI UU Lalit, a Constitution Bench case involving EWS reservations achieved efficiency through time scheduling.
  • US Model: The US Supreme Court restricts oral arguments to 30 minutes per side, considered but not adopted in India.

[3] Alternatives to Extended Court Vacations

  • Flexi-Time: Introducing flexi-time for lawyers and judges is suggested, allowing them to choose working hours within a specified total.
  • Philippines Example: The Philippines implemented flexi-time for court employees based on valid reasons.
  • Historical Suggestions: Past reports and government recommendations aimed to reduce court vacations to tackle case backlog.
  • Supreme Court Rules: In 2014, the court limited summer vacations to seven weeks instead of ten.

[4] Ensuring Equal Opportunities for First-Generation Lawyers

  • Leveling the Field: The CJI emphasizes providing a level playing field for first-generation lawyers and marginalized segments with the potential to succeed.
  • Progress: Over 50% of junior civil judge exam candidates are women, and 41% of Supreme Court law clerk candidates are women.
  • Inclusivity Efforts: Initiatives by the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) aim to support diversity, including giving weightage to first-generation lawyers for Senior Advocate designations.
  • Judicial Recognition: The judiciary acknowledges the growth and contributions of first-generation lawyers, dismissing claims that recognition is solely based on wealth and proximity.

Conclusion

  • The judiciary faces multifaceted challenges, including adjournment culture, oral argument lengths, court vacations, and ensuring a fair platform for first-generation lawyers.
  • Addressing these issues requires frank discussions, reforms, and continued efforts to uphold the principles of justice and inclusivity within the legal profession.

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