“Working together does not encroach on each other’s territory”; Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju speaks out on the independence of the judiciary

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Speaking at the 15th NUALS Convocation Ceremony, Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, remarked that close coordination between the Judiciary and the other two organs of the State does not necessarily impinge on the independence of another.

“People can say that the judiciary is independent. The legislature and the executive are also independent in India in their own way. That does not prevent us from working together. Working together does not encroach on each other’s territory. “We respect the judiciary and its independence. At the same time, we also want close coordination. I want to assure the Ministry of Law and Justice that nothing will be missed. We are always open to suggestions and requests,” commented the Union Law Minister.

On the aspect of the appointment of judges, the Minister noted that the waiting of cases and the low number of judges are correlated.

“A successful democracy should have a strong judicial system. with the full support of the College and the Department of Justice is working in tandem and closely with the Chief Justice and members of the College so that we can handle all things, not everything has to be just records and paperwork. We can do things outside the formality too if we have a good working relationship.”

The minister also noted that he is aware of the infrastructural challenges facing the justice system. The minister said that 9,000 crore has been approved by the latest cabinet for infrastructure development in subordinate/district courts. Of this amount, 40% of the funds will come from the state government and the rest will be financed by the central government.

The minister noted that he has a binding duty to ensure that the country’s judicial system is strong and to take care of the interests of lawyers.

“I would like to assure young graduates that the opportunities available to you are immense. I share full responsibility to provide you with better opportunities for you and your future…When I arrived in the land of God, the beautiful state from Kerala, I also know that Kerala is one of the most literate societies, and legally the level of awareness in Kerala is much higher than the rest of the country.”

On the progress of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism, Mr Minster shared his hopes that the Mediation Bill tabled in the winter session of parliament has immense potential to open up new avenues for lawyers.

“In the Mediation Bill, we are not restricting it to lawyers only. Some reputable people in society can also act as mediators. But it opens up a big space for existing lawyers and we need to look at all the ADRs of mechanism studies in law schools and universities…As our economy develops, the path to litigation will also widen accordingly”

The Minister also felt that lawyers are naturally drawn to the business world, although a balance needs to be struck. On legal services, Kiren Rijiju also commended the Supreme Court for showing “true leadership” in legal awareness campaigns across the states during the 75-week celebration.

I don’t mean that lawyers shouldn’t look into commercial interests. This is certainly the engine of the legal profession. But we must not forget the pro bono concept either. Thanks to NALSA, a massive campaign was launched across the country. I’ve been to every state and UT; I must commend the Indian judiciary headed by the Supreme Court and all High Courts in India. The campaign was very successful and I recognized it at the Constitution Day celebration as well that the SC showed real leadership.. The Digital India concept developed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has galvanized the whole nation. From now on, the judicial power is not limited to hearings. Justice cannot be served from courtrooms alone; justice can be served at the people’s doorstep. Legal awareness campaign on the occasion of ‘Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, I never thought the court would play such a proactive role. I have also seen the reports from Kerala. The activities carried out by the Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA), of which CJ is the chief patron, testifies to a commendable effort. It benefited so many people, people who thirsted for justice“.

The Minister also added that he has now seen the justice system up close and also identified the problems although he is not strictly from a legal background despite having a law degree.

“I’m not one of those very few ministers of justice who don’t come from a legal background although I have a law degree…After I got my law degree, I didn’t go to court. Even then , I became Minister of Law and Justice of this country. I have never seen what a courtroom looks like, I told the CJI that I don’t know how the court proceedings are. But now i have not only seen the system but also identified the problems.

In a lighter vein, the minister also said he wanted to give students more time to celebrate. He added that he would also meet with southern state court officers this afternoon.

The summons was presided over by Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, S. Manikumar who is also Chancellor of NUALS. While the Minister delivered the Convening Address, Dr R Bindu, Minister of State for Higher Education and Pro-Chancellor of NUALS delivered the Special Address. Along with them, the ceremony was also graced by the presence of the Minister of Law and Industry, P. Rajeev, and the Member of Parliament for Ernakulam Constituency, Hibi Eden, and members of the Executive Council of NUALS as well as other dignitaries of the legal fraternity. The welcome address was delivered by the Vice-Chancellor of NUALS, Prof. Dr. KC Sunny.

At the graduation ceremony, a total of 180 students were awarded BA LL.B (Hons.), LLM and PhD degrees. Winy Daigavane was awarded gold for the BA LL.B (Hons) course while Navya Benny was awarded second place. The medal for obtaining the first rank of the LLM course was awarded to Albin Anto.

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