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Friday, June 2, 2023

“Wake up from colonial stupor, Indianise legal system”: CJI Ramana gets this one right

CJI Ramana has called for reforming the legal system and ridding it of colonialism citing difficulty of citizens in approaching the courts to seek justice. He pointed out the colonial hangover in writing judgments that increases the legal cost for the litigants.

CJI Ramana wants legal system decolonized

CJI NV Ramana speaking at an event of the Karnataka Bar Council highlighted the need to move away from the colonial system practised in courts where judgments are still written in English and are lengthy as well as technical making it difficult for the common citizen to understand.

He further stated that a common man seeking justice finds himself out of place in the court where the proceedings are carried out in English, a language alien to a large section of Bharat’s population. Prohibitive costs of legal proceedings make it even more difficult for the people to access justice.

The CJI said that it is time that courts woke up from their colonial stupor and faced the realities of the Bharatiya society. Calling for Indianizing the legal system, CJI Ramana stated “The need of the hour is Indianisation of our legal system. Rules and procedures of justice delivery should be made simple”.

He opined that an ordinary citizen should be able to approach the courts and judges with ease and not fear them. He shouldn’t have second thoughts while knocking the doors of the court and must be able to speak the truth.

On this occasion, the CJI also brought forth the point that multiple barriers were obstructing the common citizen’s quest for justice. Stating that the working and style of Bharat’s courts doesn’t take into account the country’s complexity, CJI Ramana opined that colonial systems, practices, and rules of court are being still being followed.

Explaining his point of view, CJI Ramana said that he wanted the justice delivery systems to be localised and adapted to the practical realities of the Bharatiya society. In this regard, he cited the example of rural families approaching the court for family disputes who feel out of place due to their inability to understand the court proceedings that take place in English.

He also emphasized that litigants are forced to spend more money to understand the implication of the judgments that are often written in technical language. Not just are judgments plagued by technicalities but are also very lengthy causing further impediments.

The Hindu quotes the CJI as saying:

For whom do the courts function, For the litigants, who are the “justice seekers”. They are the ultimate beneficiaries. The simplification of justice delivery should be our pressing concern. It is crucial to make justice delivery more transparent, accessible and effective. Procedural barriers often undermine access to justice,” the CJI said.

Decolonizing the legal system

It is appreciable that the CJI has acknowledged the much needed reform of the legal system and decolonizing it in keeping with the sentiments of the majority of the common citizens. Although, the CJI erred in his earlier address on Swami Vivekananda’s message to Hindu society, he has hit that hammer on the nail as far as decolonizing the legal system is concerned.

However, this change shouldn’t be superficial but must address deeper issues with the constitution and the judiciary. As Advocate J Sai Deepak had highlighted during his debate with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Bharat needs to draw upon its Dharmik civilization rather than the current concept of constitutionalism emanating from Europe.

Deepak believes the awakening of Hindus to their civilization is an attempt to reaccess Bharat’s past as well as reinscribe certain values of the past in the present institutions and thereby create a more indigenous future. He states that the idea is to create a future where the quotient of indigenity is higher than that of coloniality.

It is essential to note the point made by Deepak where he says indigenity quotient should be higher than that of coloniality. The very first thing that we need to do is permit Bharatiya languages in higher courts. An English translation may be provided along with the language chosen by either of litigants, so others in country can understand and translate as per their need.

There is also a need to relook at the constitution and if it can be amended then certainly it can be totally reconstituted or even discarded in keeping with the need of the hour. Every society evolves with times and the constitution needs to be looked at from the point of view of present realities.

We must not forget that the constitution was drafted by humans and belongs to a time period whose reality is far removed from today. As Deepak had said, even if we didn’t have the concept of contemporary constitutionalism that emanates from Europe, Bharat as a civilization has thrown open its doors to those who were willing to live with us.

More than anything else, today it is essential to safeguard indigenous traditions and proselytisation by aggressive Abrahamic faiths needs to be outlawed. Secularism is unnecessary for a Dharmic civilization like Bharat where different Dharmic traditions/religions/spiritual paths have co-existed for millennia.

In any case, secularism is simply being used as a convenient stick to beat Hindus with by politicians who are only concerned with minority appeasement. Even so-called Hindu parties aren’t untouched by the need to display their ‘secular credentials’. Secularism is merely a tool to show complete apathy to Hindu sentiments.

Another important area of reform is the judiciary itself which needs to get rid of the collegium completely. Selection of judiciary needs to be open, transparent and balanced in which both legislature and executive must have an equal say.

It is also essential that the judiciary aligns with national interests and civilizational goals, rather than expect people to follow their Western liberal outlook. Similarly, the training curriculum for judiciary needs to be indigenised in keeping with which study of ancient Bharatiya jurisprudence systems, course for appreciation of ancient Hindu civilization should be added.

(Featured Image Source: Deccan Herald)

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