Higher judiciary should reflect co-operative federalism: Stalin

Chennai, May 12 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana to ensure that the judiciary also reflect the spirit of Co-operative Federalism enshrined in our Constitution.

Stalin in a letter to Modi and Ramana said certain important aspects relating to the higher judiciary – like setting up of regional benches of the apex court, having judicial diversity and proportional representation of the states in judicial bench and the use of Tamil as the official language of the Madras High Court – needs to be addressed early.

Referring to the appointments of judges of High Court and Supreme Court, Stalin said it should reflect the diverse and pluralistic society of India.

“For the past few years, we have been witnessing declining representation from all the sections of the society in the higher judiciary, leading to a ‘diversity deficit’,” Stalin said.

“A broad based, heterogeneous group of Judges representing various sections of the society as a whole alone can reflect the views and values of society as a whole, particularly on issues involving historical, traditional, linguistic and cultural matters,” he said.

According to Stalin, all the States must find proportional representation on the Bench of the Supreme Court.

The Chief Minister said establishment of Permanent Regional Benches of the Supreme Court is another issue that would reflect the federal character of India.

“Considering the fact that the Supreme Court is located at New Delhi (which is not equidistant to all parts of the country) and is far away from many States, particularly the Southern, South Western & Eastern States, the citizens in these States are deprived of their fundamental right to approach the Court,” Stalin said.

“While there are 25 High Courts across the nation, it is seen from data that the number of appeals being filed in the Supreme Court is more from States around the NCR region than States located further away from Delhi,” Stalin added.

He said the Constituent Assembly Debates show that even the framers of the Constitution, as early as 1950, recognised that the Supreme Court would need to have branches in other parts of the country as the nation grows. That is why in Article 130, the Constitution permits the Court to sit in other places in the country.

“Therefore, I request you to take appropriate steps to establish Permanent Regional Benches of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai, apart from the Constitution Bench in New Delhi, so that the citizens in other parts of this vast country have equal access to the Supreme Court,” Stalin said.

Recalling Ramana’s words “judicial proceedings cannot be like chanting of mantras in a wedding that nobody understands” at a function held here, Stalin said making law and justice comprehensible to the common man in its proceedings is essential in the justice delivery system.

“In four High Courts – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Hindi has been authorised as the official language in addition to English. One therefore wonders, what is the impediment to make the official language of other States the official language of the High Court, in addition to English?” Stalin said.

He requested the Prime Minister and the CJI to take appropriate steps to declare Tamil, the official language of the Government of Tamil Nadu, as the official language of the High Court of Judicature at Madras and its Bench at Madurai, in addition to English.