Constitution of India a Living Document, not Relic Cast in Stone, Says President

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The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the Fourth Retreat of Judges of the Supreme Court at the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal today (April 16, 2016).

Speaking on the occasion, the President congratulated the Chief Justice of India and other companion Judges for organizing the Retreatwhich will provide a forum to discuss contemporary challenges that the country faces today along with global and transnational elements of legal disputes and adjudication. He said discussion and reflection of this nature is important, as well as necessary, to enable Judges keep pace with times and be able to deliver fair and effective justice in a rapidly changing world.

The President said Judiciary, which is one of the three important pillars of our democracy, is the final interpreter of the Constitution and laws. It helps in maintaining the social order by swiftly and effectively dealing with those on the wrong side of the law. As an upholder of the Rule of Law and enforcer of the right to liberty, the role of the Judiciary is sacrosanct. The faith and confidence people have reposed in the Judiciary must always be maintained. For justice to have meaning to the people, it must be accessible, affordable and quick.

The President said we have a written Constitution in India, which is a living document, not a relic cast in stone. It is a magna carta of socio-economic transformation. The Apex Court of India has continuously been interpreting the mandate for good governance enshrined in the Constitution on the altar of contemporary situations and challenges facing the country, whether due to global winds of change or from within. This has not been merely an exercise in interpretation of laws or legal order, much less an exercise in edifying jurisprudence; it has captured the ethos of our developing society as it has evolved from the colonial shackles to a social order replete with the essence of human dignity, of aspirations of a populace maturing into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic as mandated by the makers of our Constitution.

The President said given the circumstances of our developing country, our judiciary has enlarged the scope of justice. For the enforcement of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court through judicial innovation and activism has expanded the common law principle of ‘locus standi’. It has been made possible for courts to permit anyone with sufficient interest and acting bona fide to maintain an action for judicial redress, and to activate the judicial process. In the support of rights, courts have found a post card or newspaper article to be material enough to set-off judicial action. This has helped to bring justice closer to the common man. He emphasized that at the same time, judicial activism should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers. Each organ of our democracy must function within its own sphere and must not take over what is assigned to the others. The balance of power between the three organs of the state is enshrined in our Constitution. The Constitution is supreme. The equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times.

The President said quick delivery of justice is sine qua non for efficient jurisprudence. Justice delayed is justice denied. Justice should be speedy, accessible and affordable. Our Courts are today overburdened on account of the large number of cases pending before them. The pendency of cases is also dependent upon the number of vacancies in the courts. He complimented the untiring efforts made by the Chief Justice of India to speedily fill up the vacancies in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. He said since the assumption of work of Collegium from the first week of January, 2016 total 145 appointments were made as on 12.4.2016. This shows the speed with which the Collegium is now functioning. He asked the Judges to continue to maintain the tempo.