Tribal law violates constitution: outgoing Tripura chief justice

Agartala, May 12 (IANS) The customary law of tribal communities practised in some northeastern states violate provisions of the Indian Constitution, Tripura High Court’s outgoing Chief Justice Deepak Kumar Gupta said.

Gupta, who will head the Chhattisgarh High Court, said: “Tribal leaders use the customary law sometimes to deal with murder, rape and heinous crimes. These traditional customary laws must be codified.”

Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday evening, he added: “Serious disputes and crimes should not be settled by extra constitutional bodies.”

In the northeast, tribals comprise 28 percent of the population. Among them, there are 138 tribes with separate lifestyles, foods, customs and traditional practices.

Backing Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, Justice Gupta said retired judges must be appointed in the judicial system to reduce the pendency of cases.

He said: “When a separate high court was established in Tripura in 2013, 6,615 cases were pending in the high court (till March 2013 Tripura was under the jurisdiction of Gauhati High Court). The pendency has come down to 2,804.

“We are the only high court in the country where the arrears have come down at such a fast pace,” he added.

Justice Gupta said that Tripura High Court was the first in India to introduce the SMS service whereby every litigant and his lawyer get case related information.

“After we introduced this scheme, it was commenced in many other high courts and also in the Supreme Court,” he added.

The SMS service was also introduced in the district and lower courts of Tripura.

Justice Gupta, who gave some significant judgments during his tenure in Tripura High Court, felt that Tripura had a low conviction rate.

“FIRs must be registered immediately after the occurrence of any incident. Police were earlier reluctant to register FIR, causing delays in probe,” he added.

“The level of honesty is high in Tripura and schemes, specially the social sector schemes, are better administered,” added Justice Gupta, who left here on Thursday for Chhattisgarh.

–IANS

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