Vice President addresses 125th Anniversary Celebrations of Visakhapatnam District Court Bar Association

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1998

New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has called for speedy disposal of election petitions and criminal cases against political leaders pending before various courts. He also suggested the setting up of separate benches to expedite all such cases within six months or one year.

The Vice President also wanted the presiding officers of legislative bodies to decide anti-defection cases within three months.

Interacting with eminent lawyers, judges and the members of the Bar Association here in Visakhapatnam today, Shri Naidu recollected his early days as a law student in Andhra University and shared his cherished memories with the gathering.

Speaking at the 125th anniversary celebrations of Visakhapatnam District Court Bar Association, he expressed concern over the pendency of cases at various courts and said that time bound approval of applications and disposal of appeals was absolutely essential.

Pointing out that a large amount of money was locked up in long pending tax-related litigations, the Vice President said that delays in judicial litigations and proceedings could affect the image of the country.

Expressing concern over pendency of 3.12 crore cases at various courts, Shri Naidu urged upon the Courts and the Bar Associations to seriously dwell on the matter and see that pendency was reduced.

Quoting a popular adage, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’, Shri Naidu emphasized the need to undertake reforms to improve the functioning of judicial institutions to ensure speedy justice and equitable justice particularly to the common man.

Saying that Indian Constitution envisages independence of judiciary, Shri Naidu said that the all the three organs – the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary must share healthy and mutual respect and complement the role of each other. No one should encroach into others’ domains, he added.

Pointing out that India is among the fastest growing economies, he said: “the whole world is now looking towards India as an investment destination. However, we need to ensure that there is a transparent, predictable policy regime and a sound judicial, regulatory system in place”.

The Vice President said that a robust regulatory architecture gives confidence to investors, especially for a country like India that has become a bright spot for investments.

The Vice President reminded the advocates that founding fathers of the Constitution reposed implicit trust and faith in the legal community and urged them to protect the constitutional values.

Shri Naidu also urged the Bar Association to also promote usage of local languages in courts as it was convenient and appropriate that the proceedings were held in the respective state’s official language.

Pointing out that there was a general feeling that due to mushrooming of Law Colleges in every nook and corner without any infrastructure, library or good faculty, the standards of legal profession were coming down substantially, Shri Naidu called upon all the Bar Councils to see that those type of Law Colleges do not mislead the students and ensure that a proper mechanism and standards were set in place.

Shri Justice A.V. Sesha Sai, Judge, High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Ms. B.S. Bhanumathi, District Judge cum Chief Patron, Shri M.K. Sitaramayya, Chairman, The Visakhapatnam District Courts & Bar Association, Shri Bandaru Rama Krishna, President, The Visakhapatnam District Courts & Bar Association, several retired and sitting Judges, Sr. Advocates and members of the Visakhapatnam Bar Association and several eminent citizens of the port city were present at the event.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“I am delighted to interact with eminent lawyers, judges and all the members of the Bar Association here in Visakhapatnam today. My association with this City of Destiny dates back to the year 1970 when I joined the Campus Law College in Andhra University.
It was here that I was elected as President of the Students Union for the College of Arts, Commerce and Law of Andhra University that gave me recognition as a leader and stood in great stead in the later years of my public life.

I used to visit this Court’s complex as a student of Law for observation of proceedings as part of curriculum.
It was here that I had the great fortune of coming in contact with selfless freedom fighters like Tenneti Viswanadhamgaru, Gowthu Lachchannagaru and others.

During the dark days of Emergency, I was arrested and detained in the Central Jail, Visakhapatnam where I had the fortune of interacting with some of your members, notable among them was late Rachakonda Viswanadha Sastry. I also remember to have interacted with several others in this city, including late Tata Sreerama Murthy.

It was here that I had made many good friends and I still continue my association with them. The adulation I got here is immeasurable. Moreover, this is the place of my daughter’s in-laws. Thus my association with Visakhapatnam has been very intimate which I always cherish.

I studied law wanting to become an advocate and get justice to the people. However, I was influenced by Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan’s clarion call for Total Revolution and then I chose a legislative career instead of a legal career. I don’t need to dwell upon on the rest of my journey and suffice it to say that I deem it as a great honour to occupy the second highest Constitutional post in the country with the added responsibility of presiding over the Upper House, the Rajya Sabha.

Visakhapatnam Bar Association was formed in 1880. This year marks the 156th year of District Court and 139th year of Visakhapatnam Bar Association (VBA). Now the Bar association has thought it fit to commemorate its existence of 125 years, better late than never.

As you all are aware, VBA has a glorious and hoary past. It produced a number of stalwarts, legal luminaries, upright Judges, freedom fighters, social workers, journalists, law book authors and peoples’ representatives.

Visakhapatnam Bar Association has a great history of having produced eminent leaders both in the legal fraternity as well as in Indian Politics. Late Tenneti Viswanadhamgaru, a member of this Bar, a stalwart among the political leaders in India was well known for his selfless service to the People and as Minister in the then State of Andhra . He was instrumental in bringing agrarian reforms and espoused Public cause for setting up Steel Plant at Visakhapatnam.

Late Sri M. Chalapathi Rau, a highly respected and noted Journalist who was Editor of National Herald, Late Sri Mantha Rama Murthy whose book ‘The Law of Wills’ is a sought-after publication to this day, late Smt. D. Saraswathi Devi, who hails from a family of freedom fighters and late Ms. P. Jaganmohini.

They were many members of this Bar Association worth emulating.

A few among them are late Sir Vepa Ramesam who later became Officiating Chief Justice of Madras High Court for the Composite State of Madras which included the present State of Andhra Pradesh till linguistic States were formed. Few lawyers of this Bar became Judges of the A P High Court.

Late DV Subba Rao, who served as chairman of the Bar Council of India and many of your members are not only well versed in law, but they are scholarly, multi linguistic and great interpreters.

It is gratifying to note that many Judicial Officers who worked here were nurtured and groomed with profound legal knowledge and they discharged their duties with aplomb in different capacities, including as acting Governors, Chief Justices, Upalokayukthas, Chairman and Members of Tribunals, Law Secretaries and Registrars of High Courts.

They all debated important questions of Law of far reaching implications and in many cases, they delivered landmark judgements which found their way into Law reports. Many a sensational criminal trial yielded pronouncements of very important propositions of law, valid even today.

Thus, the VBA deserves to be proud of its past history at this momentous hour of quasi-quicentennial celebrations. I am sure that the present generation of advocates will uphold the great values established by their predecessors.

Dear friends,

Judiciary is an important constitutional organ and not only plays a major role in ensuring Constitutional equilibrium between competing and conflicting interests of various stakeholders and other organs of State, but also is the ultimate interpreter of Law.

Coming to justice delivery system in our country, it is indeed a matter of concern that the pendency of cases is huge at various levels. Although, various factors, including shortage of manpower and lack of adequate infrastructure, can be attributed for the increase in arrears, it should be the endeavour of everyone associated with judiciary to work towards early disposal of cases.

Quick disposal of cases will provide immense relief to those knocking at the doors of judiciary.

With the advancement of technology, both Bench and Bar need to make optimum use of it for improving efficiency. Needless to say that we are passing through a critical phase in every walk of life as we are migrating from a feudal and agrarian society to modern democratic and industrial nationhood. It is indeed painful phase and all the institutions including Judiciary are being stressed. But there can be no let up, as otherwise we will lag behind and future generations would fault us.

Dear Friends,

Judiciary has always been looked up to as an important instrument to bring about social change. As you all are aware, law enjoys and uses unifying power to contribute towards better social cohesion and can act as a tool for bringing about homogeneity in the heterogeneous population with socio-cultural diversities.

Though there are several ways to bring about a change and reformation in society, reformation through law is perhaps one of the most effective and safest methods to achieve this end.

The founding fathers of modern India took this theory further by reading the expression “for the people” as indicative of the desirability to set up a governance that works “for the welfare of the people”.

Judiciary is a key pillar of our democratic polity. It is meant to be the dispassionate monitor of Constitutional values. Being the crucial pillar among the three pillars of democracy, judiciary ensures that the constitutional provisions are followed both in letter and spirit.

India was founded as a democratic welfare State which would allow equal opportunity to each and everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, colour and sex; a State where everyone would have equal opportunity for personal growth and for contributing to the cause of nation. Judiciary which is the most important aspect of ensuring equality has a major role to play.

In my view, judiciary also has a crucial role to play in deepening our democratic roots. It can do so by ensuring speedy justice, even handed justice and justice that is perceived to be entirely fair.

The total pendency in all courts across the country, including the HCs and the apex court, has crossed an all-time high of 3.12 crore.

Courts and the Bar Associations must seriously dwell on the matter and see that pendency is reduced. Encouraging Mediation process and pre-litigation Lok Adalats can give positive results. Gram Nyayalays in rural areas can relieve farmers and villages of hardship and exorbitant cost of litigation.

Dear friends,

I would like to draw the attention of you and the Bar Associations across the country on the need to take steps to improve the quality of output from the Law Colleges.

There is a general feeling that due to mushrooming of Law Colleges in every nook and corner without any infrastructure, library or good faculty, the standards of legal profession are coming down substantially.

Bar Councils must see that these kinds of Law Colleges do not mislead the students wanting to become lawyers and ensure that a proper mechanism and standards are set in place. You must also take active steps to upgrade the syllabus and follow it up with relevant ministries.

I am happy to note that in recent past, the quality of law graduates has improved by some measure, thanks to the establishment of National Law Schools all over India. But data indicate that most of the graduates from these Colleges are not seeking to become lawyers in the portals of Courts, more so trial Courts, and instead they are opting for high-end corporate jobs.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Bar Council to take urgent steps to set the things in right direction.

I urge the Bar Association to also promote usage of local languages in courts as it is convenient and appropriate that the proceedings are held in the respective state’s official language.

Dear friends,

Advocates have to constantly remind themselves that our noble Constitution enshrined individual and group rights to all citizens of this great country and all of us have to zealously protect them and guard against all kinds of erosion.

The confidence of the common man in the Judiciary is an ample testimony of the significant role of judiciary and its valuable contribution in enforcing Rule of Law in accordance with the principles and values enshrined in the Constitution of India.

The Founding fathers of our Constitution reposed implicit trust and faith in the legal community. As social engineers, lawyers have to play a crucial role in the overall development of our country in all spheres.

New subjects like Environment Law, Cyber Law, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code are fast developing and making strides. Some more subjects are emerging. Our new crop of lawyers, have to hone their skills to remain relevant and survive in this competitive field, lest, they will perish.

As a person of legal fraternity, I am alive to the difficulties faced by the Legal practitioners.

I wish that this Bar continues to be a beacon for great values which it has established to follow as an example for others.

Hon’ble Judges and Distinguished Members of Bar,

As the people expect the Courts to deliver expeditious justice, I would urge upon all of you to take measures to expedite disposal of the cases. I am also quite aware of issue of the large number of vacancies.

Apparently, large amount of money is also locked up in long pending tax-related litigations. It should be noted that any delays in judicial litigations and proceedings can affect the image of the country.

Friends,
India’s economy is on a growth path. We are currently among the fastest growing economies in the world. The whole world is now looking towards India as an investment destination. However, we need to ensure that there is a transparent, predictable policy regime and a sound judicial, regulatory system in place.

A robust regulatory architecture gives confidence to investors. Time bound approval of applications and disposal of appeals is absolutely essential.

The Indian society is changing at a fast pace. Marginalized groups are actively seeking social justice. Justice and the Legislature have been sensitive to the need to protect the rights of these groups. This intent has to be carried out in practice.

Friends,
While our Constitution envisages independence of judiciary, all the three organs— the Legislature. Executive and Judiciary should share healthy and mutual respect and should complement the role of each other. No one should encroach into others’ domains.

We all need to ensure that our constitutional principles and rule of law are respected by every citizen and nobody should be allowed to violate them with impunity.

We all are familiar with the popular adage, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. Keeping that guiding principle in mind, we need to undertake reforms to improve the functioning of judicial institutions to ensure speedy justice and equitable justice particularly to the common man.

As regards election cases pending before various courts, they need to be disposed of expeditiously.

Election petitions and criminal cases against political leaders must be decided quickly by special benches of higher courts in a time-bound manner. If need be, separate benches may be setup to expedite such cases within six months or one year.

Similarly, the presiding officers of legislative bodies need to decide anti-defection cases within three months time.

I once again compliment the bar association for their successful journey and my best wishes for their future endeavours in serving the society.

Jai Hind!”

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