A week-ago, he told women lawyers that “with your anger, you shout, you demand, and press for 50 per cent representation in judiciary”.
He led from the front to break the 21-month-long deadlock and recommended nine judges for appointment to the Supreme Court. He wholeheartedly speaks about his commitment to fill up hundreds of vacancies in high courts.
In June, he had said that the mere right to change the ruler, once every few years, by itself need not be a guarantee against tyranny and public discourse, it is an inherent aspect of human dignity and essential to a properly functioning democracy.
Meet the Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana, who has a 360-degree view on systemic issues, which plague access to justice for the common people. And it seems he is willing to go the extra mile to make people feel that law and its institutions are for everyone.
Whether it is a courtroom or a podium at a function, Ramana speaks profusely that the vulnerable and downtrodden should not be denied access to justice.
At a function on Saturday, he said that socio-economic justice would be impossible to achieve without providing equal access to justice and in a democratic country, it is the faith and trust of the people that sustains the institutions.
On the administrative side, he led from the front to end the nearly two-year-long impasse in the Supreme Court collegium with regard to appointment of judges to the top court.
Ramana took over the top legal post in the country from S.A. Bobde, who retired without sending even a single recommendation for appointment to the apex court. In his short stint so far, Ramana has sent nine names to the Centre, which have been approved in few weeks’ time.
It was reported that Justice R.F. Nariman had insisted on including the name of Justice Akil Kureshi, Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, in the list of judges recommended for elevation to the top court.
However, when he was overlooked by the Supreme Court collegium, which is headed by Ramana, no formal protest was lodged by any Bar body.
Justice Kureshi, during his stint as a judge in the Gujarat High Court, had remanded current Home Minister Amit Shah to CBI custody in 2010 in a fake encounter case. The names of the nine judges were sent to the Centre after the retirement of Nariman on August 12.
Ramana has also vehemently spoken about the need for 50 per cent representation for women in the judiciary.
Addressing women advocates of the Supreme Court, who had organised a felicitation function for him and the newly appointed judges to the top court, the CJI had said: “With your anger, you shout, you demand, we need 50 per cent representation. It is not a small issue; it is an issue of thousands of years of suppression. You are entitled, it is a matter of right. Nobody is going to give a charity.”
Ramana has also shown his willingness to accept a long-pending demand of the Supreme Court Bar Association in connection with the nomination of apex court lawyers for appointment as high court judges. He allowed the SCBA to form a search committee to identify the deserving and meritorious candidates.
On the judicial side, a bench headed by the CJI had said that it intends to set up a technical committee to probe the allegations of snooping on citizens, particularly journalists, activists, opposition leaders etc., using the Pegasus spyware.
The top court had expressed its dissatisfaction with the government’s refusal to file a detailed affidavit in the controversial matter. The case is likely to put the Centre in the dock, as the apex court has sought a detailed reply from the government on the issue.
In another matter regarding vacancies in tribunals, a bench headed by the CJI had threatened suo moto stay on the Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021, as it asked the Centre to reinstate the acting NCLAT chief, Justice Ashok Iqbal Singh Cheema, who was asked to retire 10 days before due date.
In July, a bench headed by the CJI had questioned the Centre on the utility of having a sedition law even after 75 years of gaining Independence from the British, and had also frowned on the misuse of law by the police against the people.
Ramana had said: “It is a colonial law that was used by the British to silence Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak. Still, it is necessary after 75 years of Independence!”
In a matter connected to fast-tracking of trial in criminal cases against former and sitting MPs and MLAs, a bench headed by the CJI had ordered that no case can be withdrawn without the high court’s approval. Through this order, the top court put a judicial oversight over the state’s decisions to withdraw cases against politicians.
Speaking at the 75th Independence Day celebrations organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Ramana, citing the nature of contemporary debates in the Parliament, had said: “Now it is a sorry state of affairs. We see the legislations. Lots of gaps; a lot of ambiguity in making laws. There is no clarity in the laws. We do not know what for purpose laws are made, which is creating a lot of litigation, inconvenience and loss to the government, as well as inconvenience to the public.”
(Sumit saxena can be contacted by email@example.com )