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CJI DY Chandrachud Affirms No Political Pressure in His 24-Year Judicial Career

CJI DY Chandrachud recently emphasized that he has never experienced political pressure from any government during his 24 years as a judge

Speaking at a Q&A session organized by the Oxford Union, CJI Chandrachud addressed concerns about political influence on the judiciary, particularly in recent years.

Isolated from Political Arm: CJI Highlights Judicial Independence

When asked about political pressure on the judiciary, CJI Chandrachud responded, “Political pressure, if you ask me in the sense of pressure from the government, I would tell you that in the 24 years I have been a judge, I have never faced a sense of political pressure from the powers that be.”

Judges Conscious of Political Ramifications, Not Influenced by Them

CJI Chandrachud highlighted that judges in India traditionally lead lives isolated from the political branches of the government. However, he acknowledged that judges are often aware of the political implications of their decisions. “If you mean ‘political pressure’ in a broader sense of a judge realizing the impact of a decision which may have political ramifications, obviously, judges have to be conversant of the impact of their decisions on the polity at large when deciding constitutional cases. That is not political pressure, I believe. That is an understanding by the Court of the likely impact of the decision, which the judge must necessarily factor in their consideration.”

Social Pressure and Societal Impact of Judicial Decisions

He also discussed the concept of “social pressure,” noting that judges frequently consider the societal impact of their rulings. “Many of the cases we decide involve intense societal impacts. As judges, I believe it is our duty to be cognizant of the impact of our decisions on the social ordering which we are ultimately going to affect.”

Balancing Judicial Independence and Social Justice in Politically Charged Atmosphere

Addressing another question on balancing judicial independence, social justice, and minority rights in a politically charged environment, CJI Chandrachud remarked, “When you have trained judges deciding disputes, that allows for courts to decide on the basis of settled traditions based on Constitutional precepts as opposed to the passions of the moment.”

Judicial Interpretation vs. Activism: CJI Clarifies

During the session, CJI Chandrachud clarified that interpreting the law to uphold constitutional values is not judicial activism but rather a fundamental duty of the judiciary. “When judges are interpreting the Constitution, they are not being activists. It is their duty. The work we do is a matter of plain duty and nothing more than that,” he stated, emphasizing the judiciary’s commitment to the separation of powers and the distinct roles assigned to each branch of the State by the Constitution.

Addressing Case Backlog: Need for More Judges

CJI Chandrachud also addressed the issue of case backlog, attributing it to the insufficient number of judges. “The judge-to-population ratio in India is amongst the lowest in the world. We simply need more judges. We are engaging with the Government to increase the strength of the judiciary at all levels,” he said. Efforts are being made to expedite the filling of judicial vacancies.

Embracing Technology for Judicial Transparency

The CJI elaborated on initiatives to employ technology and Artificial Intelligence to make the judiciary more transparent and accessible. He noted that the large number of cases filed in Indian courts is a testament to the public’s trust in the judiciary, but acknowledged that more needs to be done to enhance this trust. “The best way to entrench public confidence in the judiciary is for the Courts to be transparent and accountable to the people. We are not accountable in that sense to democratically elected institutions like Parliament. We can do a lot more to be transparent, which we are trying to do, and we can add a lot more to our accountability,” he concluded.

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