Terming pendency of cases a "huge challenge", Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Friday expressed regret for not being able to pay much attention to issues of listing and posting of matters for hearing in the Supreme Court.
The CJI, who is to demit office on Friday, said there is a need to deploy modern technology tools and artificial intelligence to find a solution.
"Even though we tried developing some modules, because of the compatibility and security issues, we could not make much progress," Justice Ramana, who was heading the ceremonial bench, said.
He said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the priority was running the courts and unlike commercial establishments, "we cannot secure the technological tools from the market directly".
"We have to admit the fact that the pendency is a huge challenge before us. I must admit that issues of listing and posting of matters is one of the areas on which I could not pay much attention. I am sorry for that," the CJI said, adding, "We are busy in fire-fighting on all days".
Recently, senior advocate and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Dushyant Dave said that the CJI should not have the power to assign and list cases, and a fully automated system for allocation be put in place in the top court.
He had referred to the problems faced by young lawyers in getting their matters listed in the top court.
In his first farewell speech for the day, Justice Ramana said the needs of the judiciary were different from those of the rest.
He said unless the bar was willing to extend its whole-hearted cooperation, it would be difficult to bring in necessary changes.
"The juniors who entered the profession look up to the seniors as their role models. I request all the seniors to guide them to be on the right path," he said.
The CJI said the Indian judiciary has grown with time and it cannot be defined or judged by one single order or judgement.
He said unless the credibility of the institution is protected, being the officers of this court, one could not command respect from the people and the society.
"Let all of us march forward with the discussion and dialogue in the process of giving speedy and affordable justice to the common man," he said.
The CJI said he was neither the first one nor he would be the last one to contribute towards the development of the institution.
"People may come and go but the institution remains forever," he said.
"I thank all my colleagues and all the members of the bar for their active support and cooperation. I will certainly miss you all. Thank you," Justice Ramana, who became the 48th CJI on April 24 last year, said.
Attorney General K K Venugopal said 224 vacancies in the high court were filed up and over 100 members in the tribunals were appointed during the tenure of Justice Ramana as the CJI.
He termed the CJI's achievements "remarkable", and said the vacancies were filled up during his tenure and for the first time, the top court had a full strength of 34 judges.
"What is outstanding for the CJI is the persuasion with which he was able to clear appointments and vacancies," Venugopal said.
"I wish well for this new era in your career and I have no doubt that it will be as fruitful and productive as the one which your lordship has just concluded on the bench of Supreme Court of India," he said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta hailed the achievements of the CJI and said he has performed his duty as the 'karta' of the legal fraternity, as he did for his biological family.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is also the president of the SCBA, said Justice Ramana's retirement is a great loss for all. "The prestige of the institution has also been maintained and a clear signal has been given that this court means business and this court will uphold the Constitution and this court will ensure that the constitutional rights of the people will never be compromised," he said.
Dave broke into tears while bidding adieu to the CJI, saying he maintained checks and balances between the judiciary, executive and Parliament, and did so "with a spine".
While Dave described Ramana as a citizen's judge, his colleague and senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the court will remember him for "maintaining balance even in turbulent times".
"I speak on behalf of vast multitude of citizens of this country. You stood up for them. You upheld their rights and the Constitution. When you took over, I was sceptical of what the court had gone through. I must say, you excelled our expectations. You maintained checks and balances between judiciary, executive and Parliament. You did with a spine," Dave said.
Sibal added that Ramana has also taken care of the family of judges.
"When the sea is calm, the ship will sail. We are going through very turbulent times. It is difficult for the ship to sail.
"This court will remember you for maintaining balance even in turbulent times. You have ensured that dignity and integrity of this court is maintained. That the government is called to answer," Sibal said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)