Justice still a cynical phrase for common man, says CJI
His view was supported by senior most judge of the apex court Justice G S Singhvi, who said justice remains an "illusion" for millions of poor people.
They were speaking on the occasion of National Legal Services Day. Justice Sathasivam said most of the people still believe that interest of litigants goes unnoticed in legal proceedings and steps need to be taken for changing the mindset and to spread awareness.
"For a major segment of our demographic dividend, justice is still a cynical phrase because in common man's perception, law is being administered by our courts for law's sake and not for justice... It is the belief of most of the people of India that interest of litigant goes unnoticed in the typhoon of legal proceedings," he said.
Justice Singhvi said it is time to "ponder over whether in 65 years we have been able to achieve the goal to provide justice for people and whether we have created an atmosphere where everybody has equality of opportunity and status for people.
"I still find justice is still an illusion for millions of people in the country and it is not accessible to majority of the population," he said, adding that "We, who are entrusted with the task to deliver justice, must make a pledge to bring justice at the door steps of people."
Singhvi said the causes of injustice to the millions of people are illiteracy, lack of awareness, inordinate delay in court proceedings, litigation expenses and cumbersome procedure. He asked judges to take a humane approach in handling cases of the less privileged section of society.
"We need to rededicate ourself for the cause of justice," he said. "I must admit and confess that Legal Service Authorities across the country have changed the scenario and justice has become accessible now."
The CJI admitted that of late, the apex court has "not been able to concentrate or earmark more time for disposal of regular matters" as some "sensitive matters" have "consumed" its time and added that "inspite of formulating some scheme, we have not been able to achieve the target (of disposing of regular matters)".
He, however, praised the state, district and taluka level legal service authorities, saying they were working determinedly towards providing access to justice to every citizen of India.
Justice Sathasivam also lauded the Centre's efforts in providing employment to people of rural areas under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, but observed that people employed under the scheme are usually not provided the wages earmarked under it and take what they get because they are not aware of what the provisions say.
"The Government of India has framed a very laudable scheme known as Rural Employment Scheme that is now named after Mahatma Gandhi... Most of the womenfolk in our villages are benefited by this Act, but none of them are aware about what are the actual wages fixed by the government and they simply go and receive what the person-in-charge is paying them.
"Many of them rarely get the wages fixed under the scheme and it is the responsibility of the para-legal volunteers to apprise the people of the actual position as it is public money which is being paid under the scheme," he said.
The event also marked the 18th anniversary of the coming into force of the Legal Services Authorities Act.