Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Sunday said the diamond jubilee year of the Supreme Court should be the time to recognise challenges threatening the relevancy of the court as an institution and begin “difficult conversations” starting with the necessity to continue with long vacations.
“Let us begin the conversation on long vacations and whether alternatives such as flexi-time for lawyers and judges is possible,” Dr. Chandrachud said in his speech in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Supreme Court judges, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Bar leaders.
The Chief Justice said the “adjournment culture” should give way to a “culture of professionalism” in court.
The CJI drew attention to how lengthy oral arguments, some of which usually go on for days on end, delay judicial outcomes.
Finally, Chief Justice Chandrachud called for a level playing field for first generation lawyers.
The Chief Justice spoke of the changing demographics in the legal profession. “Men, women and others from marginalised segments who have the will to work and the potential to succeed,” he said. He highlighted how legal practice was once considered the exclusive domain of “elite men”.
“Women, traditionally underrepresented in the profession, now constitute 36.3% of the working strength of the district judiciary. In the recruitment examination for Junior Civil Judges conducted in several States, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, HImachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, more than 50% of the selected candidates were women,” the Chief Justice said.
He said a record 11 women were conferred ‘senior advocate’ designation in one go in the Supreme Court recently. Before that, only 12 women were designated as senior advocates in the history of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice extolled how the court had used the challenges of the pandemic to reinvent its way of functioning with the help of technology.
“We have dealt with over five lakh cases through hybrid hearings. The live proceedings of the Supreme Court Constitutional Benches are popular and speak to the genuine curiosity that people have towards our courts and procedures. More than 13 lakh legacy and live case records with approximately 10 crore pages have been digitised. Nearly 1.28 lakh e-filings has been done so far, with a consistent rise in the share of e-filings compared to physical filings. E-filings are available in 25 States. The Supreme Court is soon going to migrate its digital data to a safe, secure and sovereign cloud. As of today, 36,209 judgments are uploaded online on the e-SCR (Supreme Court Reports) portal in English, out of which about 36,000 judgments are translated in Hindi, and around 11,000 judgments in other languages,” the Chief Justice said, listing some of the achievements of the court.