Jammu: Chief Justice of India T S Thakur was on Saturday critical of the government for the delay in enforcement of laws and appointment of high court judges saying time has come to audit its performance by some process.
He said at a time when people are languishing in jails and others are crying for justice, the government can't be "sitting over the proposal (on judges' appointment) for more than two months".
Inaugurating a two-day legal seminar here, Justice Thakur said, "... It is actually the protection of the rights of the people for whom the laws were made that you act. It is not for any personal glorification that the court act, it is for the enforcement of these laws. I don't know but I think time has come when you do audit of the performance of the government, when we need to do audit of the government by some processes," he said.
On the appointment of judges, he said, the 50 per cent of selected candidates (for judges) which have been cleared (through various stages) are languishing with the government for the past two months.
"Now in a system where judiciary is working at half strength people are languishing in jails, people are crying for justice, the Chief Justice of the high courts and the senior most judges of the high court have considered a person suitable, it has gone through the chief minister and the Governor, it has reached the law ministry, it has gone through scrutiny of IB, it has come to the Supreme Court collegium and the Chief Justice and other senior judges have seen it and have removed unwanted and undeserving and sent the only most deserving of the candidates.
"Why the government should be sitting on the proposal I cannot understand," he said.
According to Justice Thakur, high courts across the country were running at half the strength which has resulted in delayed justice to the people, but still the government has not cleared the appointments of judges.
"Today there are 450 vacancies in the high courts across the country. 450 is a large number which is almost 50 per cent of working strength of the high courts... You also know there is a delay in filling those vacancies, which was been halted due to the bringing of National Judicial commission," he said.
Justice Thakur said the Constitution amendment was struck.
down and within three weeks, he received a letter from the Union Law Minister saying that since the act has been struck down and as there was large number of vacancies to be filled up, "you continue the process of appointment", he said.
"I must give the credit to the collegiums that we realised that it was a major problem. We cleared 150 appointments and I can tell you that today not a single proposal is pending with us. We have cleared all the proposals. It is a different issue that the percentage of the casualty was higher because we have raised the bar higher. Almost 50 percent of the proposals we have turned down because we did not find them up to the mark", he said.
Stressing the need for a mechanism, he said, "The people are informed. I have a feeling that a social audit of the performance of the government be done whether it is the government of Jammu and Kashmir when it comes to the establishment of a board which took 10 years to establishor the government of India where it takes time to clear the proposal. I think there needs to be awareness but when the intelligentsia or the society respond there is no need for us to enforce."
On Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement that one obsolete law will be repealed every day, the CJI said the challenge was to enforce existing laws for the welfare of the people.
"The Prime Minister is committed as he says we are repealing a law every single day and by this standard we will have 1700 laws repealed by the time he finished his tenure.
"I believe that he has already repealed around 300 laws and 1400 more can be repealed. These are dead laws, those which are obsolete and which are irrelevant. There are some old colonial laws which has no relevance today. You can repeal them by one enactment, it is no problem," he said.
"But the challenge is not about repealing those laws but the challenge is the enforcement of those laws which exists today and for a law as recent as 1996 it has taken the government 10 years to constitute a board how much more time will it take to make sure that the rights and the benefits of these schemes reach the people who need them," he asked.
On the issue of drug abuse, Justice Thakur said it has taken alarming proportions in various parts of the country.
He said that Maoism has become a major problem for the country.
"... So and so we discussed the issues related to tribal rights we have the entire northeast which is tribal in its outlook and in the societal perspective so the tribal of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, where we have major issues, where we see the problem of Maoism and all, there is a revolt against the denial of the basic rights to these people, which is a major issue not for those areas but for the entire country", he said.