“Rule of law most fundamental feature of modern constitutions of world”: Says Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde

Team SoOLEGAL 24 Feb 2020 2:18pm

“Rule of law most fundamental feature of modern constitutions of world”: Says Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde

The rule of law is probably the "most fundamental feature" of modern constitutions and their success depends on how judiciaries around the world respond to emerging challenges, said Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, on Saturday (22.02.2020). While speaking on the subject of  'Judiciary and the Changing World' at the Supreme Court here at the International Judges’ Conference, the CJI also stressed the need for citizens to perform their legal duties.

"Probably the most fundamental feature of most modern constitutions is the idea of the rule of law”, he said, adding, "Undoubtedly, the success of the rule of law in our country depends on how the judiciaries respond to such challenges and how they emerge."

In reference to constitutional provisions, Justice Bobde stated that it is often implied in law that “legal rights have correlatives of legal duties.”

A feature often neglected is a chapter on fundamental duties imposing on every citizen the duties to abide by the constitution, the whole of it and respect its ideals and institution”
More than 50 countries have specific provisions in their constitutions covering fundamental duties, the CJI said.

Hon’ble Justice Bobde quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying that the exercise of rights depends on one's sense of duty and “real rights are a result of performance of duty.”
The CJI also referred to
"incredible technological advancement" and said that now the whole world is interconnected, and a small change in one corner of the world will lead to change in different parts.

"Judiciaries all over the world are dealing with this kind of change, what might be called a rights revolution, a technological revolution and a demographic revolution. Our decisions no longer impact only those who live in our jurisdiction but also those who live in other jurisdictions, some far away”, he said.

Wishing success at the first such conference organized by the Indian Supreme Court attended by judges from over 20 nations, he said this would provide opportunities for judges "to exchange ideas and acquire knowledge on many aspects of gender justice, the right to privacy, democracy, climate and sustainable development."

He said the Constitution established a "strong and independent judiciary" separate from the executive and legislative branches.

We have strived at every turn, not just as a judicial institution but also as a citizenry to keep these basic ideals intact”, he said.

The CJI then delved into India's 2,000-year-old jurisprudence and said,"India had a well-established system of courts. The rules were all contained in the scriptures which prescribed a mandatory open hearing in courts in the presence of officers of the court."

He also referred to ' Vyasa Smriti ' and said it offered "various stages of a legal decision" and they were "the complaint, the written statement, the questions, the facts, the lawyer's review, the lawyer's case, the law provisions and the decision" containing a royal seal thereon.

Referring to the ancient practice of village panchayats giving justice in north-eastern parts of India,he said, "For instance the chicken liver test - in the absence of any direct evidence, the priest selects a small chick, cuts its neck, removes its liver, examines it and hands it over to the other members of the panchayat for examination.” The panel then collectively decides whether the accused is guilty of having the liver examined.

He said there was also a tradition of taking oath keeping a tiger's tooth and Indian diversity was fascinating.

Terming India as "a melting pot of myriad cultures and traditions", the CJI said, "We have assimilated legal cultures of all the civilisations that have come to our shores - the Mughals, the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch and finally the English."

At the meeting Attorney General K K Venugopal also spoke about the matter. He raised the issue of deprivation, and pointed to initiatives and welfare programs undertaken to eliminate it by successive governments.

Now, one should realise that India is a vast country and when we got freedom and the Constitution was adopted in 1950, the census showed that 70 per cent of the people were living below the poverty line” said the top most lawyer.

He said, “That is what was the state of the country after 200 years of British rule. Now, this has been reduced today to 21 per cent and that I think is through the efforts of the government.”

He said the government has introduced a series of reforms that included social ones.

Attorney Venugopal also referred to schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the life insurance scheme for Prime Ministers, the welfare scheme and the food safety statute.

He said, “Wherever the State, in the nature of the government, has failed to produce results in some areas where there may be gaps, then in such a case the Supreme Court has stepped in...”

Venugopal said he hoped that the collaborative efforts of the government and the high court would eradicate poverty from the country in the next few years.

Tagged: Attorney Venugopal   MGNREGA   Chief Justice of India   S A Bobde     
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