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Need to Indianise our legal system, says Indian CJ Ramana

INTERNATIONAL DESK: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Saturday asserted the need for the “Indianisation of our legal system”, pointing out that the colonial system being followed currently may not be best suited to the complexities of India.

“Our system, practices, rules being colonial in origin may not be best suited to the needs of the Indian population. The need of the hour is the Indianisation of our legal system. When I say Indianisation, I mean the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and localise our justice delivery systems,” the CJI said, while addressing an event organised in Bengaluru to pay tributes to late Supreme Court judge justice Mohan Mohan Shantanagoudar.

Ruing that the system in vogue poses multiple barriers for the common people, and those belonging to rural parts of the country are usually made to feel out of place in the court, justice Ramana said it’s imperative to simplify the justice delivery system and make it more accessible and effective.

“Courts need to be litigant centric, as they are the ultimate beneficiaries. The simplification of justice delivery should be our pressing concern,” the CJI underscored, pointing out that procedural barriers often undermine access to justice. The common man should not be apprehensive about approaching the courts and authorities, he said

Justice Ramana also called for the need to localise the justice delivery systems and explained this by illustrating how a litigant from a rural place would not understand the arguments or pleadings, which are mostly in English, and then they would be forced to spend more money to understand the implications of a judgment. “It is the duty of lawyers and judges to create an environment which is comforting for the litigants and other stakeholders. We must not forget that the focal point of any justice delivery system is the ‘litigant- the justice seeker’… It is crucial to make justice delivery more transparent, accessible and effective,” he said.

During the event, justice Ramana fondly remembered justice Shantanagoudar, who died at the age of 62 due to a lung infection on April 24, as an “extraordinary judge”. His four-year-long tenure in the Supreme Court was marked by his concerns for social equality, the opportunity to all, and rights and liberties of the people, justice Ramana said.

“Sitting on a bench with him for about a year-and-a-half, I was witness to his legal acumen, immense preparation as well as his kindness and generosity of spirit… He was built from a different fibre. Till his last days, he continued to sit on the bench, hear cases and write judgments. His commitment to his judicial duty was inspiring,” he added.

Justice Ramana also recalled some of the important judgments by justice Shantanagoudar. In March 2020, justice Shantagoudar came to the rescue of small farmers and held that a farmer is entitled to file a consumer complaint against a seed company for deficiency of service. Through a ruling in February, justice Shantagoudar obligated the banks to ensure safe custody of valuables in their lockers, holding that banks cannot wash off their hands and claim that they bear no liability towards their customers for the operation of the locker.  ()