The Indian judiciary is independent and it is a "collective responsibility" to see that it remains so, Chief Justice SA Bobde said today. At a function days after he succeeded Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Bobde said the judiciary has always responded when called upon to address "certain issues that others avoid".
"This institution belongs to the nation. There remain areas of concern about the working of this institution," Justice Bobde said. The areas of concern, he indicated, were mostly logistical.
"Over the last years we have taken important strides including pendency, vacancy and infrastructure," he said. "We need to harness IT and technology to provide justice in a speedy and cost-effective manner. Artificial intelligence can assist the judiciary and it will allow us to shift judicial time to simple matters," he added.
The comments of the Chief Justice come amid a negative response from a section on the last landmark verdict delivered by the Supreme Court - the title suit in the decades-old temple-mosque dispute in Ayodhya.
The court ordered that the Central government formulate a scheme for setting up a trust within three months and hand over the disputed site to it for the construction of a temple. The court also ordered that five acres of land at a prominent location in Ayodhya be allotted for the construction of the mosque.
In a recent article in Hindustan Times, Justice Madan Lokur, who retired from the Supreme Court last year, had written that Chief Justice SA Bobde has an "unenviable task ahead, principally to restore the credibility and stature of what is incorrectly described as the most powerful court in the world".
"Unless this concern is urgently addressed, the cascading effect will be the death knell of the independence of the judiciary," he wrote.
Without citing any particular case, Justice Lokur wrote, "A few recent judicial verdicts and administrative decisions seem to suggest that some of our judges need to show some backbone and spine, particularly in dealing with issues of personal liberty."
He also made the point that Justice Bobde "Must also instil faith in all judges that they will be fully protected in the discharge of their duties, without fear or favour, and restore faith in "we the people"."