Avoid 5-star activism: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday cautioned the judiciary not to be influenced by “five-star activists”, who are trying to influence the judiciary. He said judges often fear what these activists will say if they decide a case as per law. Modi even commented on the absence of an internal mechanism to assess judges, saying they are not open to even criticism while they wield immense power and can even sentence a person to death.
In his inaugural speech at the Joint Meeting of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers on Sunday, the PM said, “It is easy to deliver judgements based on the law and Constitution. There is a need to be cautious against perception-driven verdicts that are often driven by five-star activists.” Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, who was present at the event, later told a media briefing that the mechanism talked about by the PM already exists and is “effectively functioning”.
While agreeing that his suggestion was a “difficult” one, Modi said that the powerful judiciary must be perfect too as ordinary people have immense faith in it as judges are treated equal to God. “We (the political class) are lucky that people watch us, assess us and rip us apart. You (judiciary) do not have that privilege. A person condemned to death also comes out and says that he has faith in the judiciary... When there is little scope for criticism, the need of the hour is to develop an internal mechanism for self-assessment where the Government and the politicians have no role.”
The PM talked about RTI, Election Commission and Lokpal to keep politicians in check and said that there was so much scrutiny on them that news that once was not fit for gossip columns, is today breaking news. “After every five years, we have to give an account to the people. Our institution has got a lot of flak. We have brought in the Election Commission, RTI and are moving towards Lokpal. We are doing so because checks and balances are necessary to keep us in direction,” he said.
Over and above, he added, that if the Government makes any mistake, there is the judiciary to correct it. “But if you (judiciary) commit a mistake, then everything will end. If you don’t do it (internal assessment) then the DNA (of judiciary) will go bad and strike at the faith of the people.” Modi even raised doubts on the efficacy of Government-appointed tribunals and demanded a comprehensive review of this system. He said it is necessary to find out whether tribunals are delivering justice or have become a “barrier” in the process of delivery of justice. Citing his Government’s attempt to repeal 1,700 obsolete laws, Modi said, “There should be minimum gray areas, and therefore, drafting of laws requires special attention.”
He stressed that quality manpower was required for the judiciary and voiced concerns on inadequate judge strength in the country coupled with lack of physical judicial infrastructure. He stressed on Lok Adalats as an effective means of dispensing justice and pointed to the importance of family courts.
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