Bhubaneswar: The two-day National Seminar titled “Judiciary, Ethics and Justice Delivery in India” that was organised by the National Law University, Odisha in collaboration with Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi that had begun on January 21 concluded on January 22, 2012.
In the Plenary Session, speaking on Judicial Appointments: Structural and Functional Reforms, Prof. (Dr.) V. Vijay Kumar, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai blamed the lack of clarity and certainty in the laws of the Constitution as the reason for which the judiciary is suffering. He claimed that the judiciary is the most ‘functional branch’ and the only to have constitutional safeguards. Dr. Kumar insisted that for the smooth functioning of the judiciary, it is essential that judges should be appointed based only on competence, and ‘parochial consideration’ or other parameters should be avoided. He also deplored the fact that there is a deviation from Constitutional principles and expectations in how appointments of judges are taking place today.
In the fourth and fifth business sessions, the theme of Constitutional Morality, Ethics and Judicial Accountability was discussed by Prof. (Dr.) P.K Sarkar, Faculty of Law, Utkal University and Prof. (Dr.) V.D Sebastian, Professor of Law, KIIT School of Law respectively. While the fourth session was chaired by Mr. B.K Mohanty, Formerly, Advocate General, State of Odisha, in the fifth session, the chairperson was Hon’ble Justice L.Mohapatra, Judge, High Court of Odisha. Prof. Sarkar voiced that there is definitely corruption in judiciary, but less than that in executive and judiciary. If the question of accountability of judges arises, he said, then whom should they be accountable to- the people of India or the Constitution? According to Prof. Sarkar, the accountability of judiciary can be more effective if there is provision about that in the Constitution, introspection by the Supreme Court and participation by the civil society, legal academia and law students in the issue.
Speaking on the same topic, Prof. Sebastian raised the important question: to whom are the judges accountable? Prof. Sebastian doubted the efficiency of the bench system of the Indian judiciary and he believed that all cases (but very few exceptional ones) must be decided by a single judge, he opined.
Prof. Kumar Kartikeya, in the sixth business session stressed on the importance of the independence of judiciary and stressed, like Prof. Vijay Kumar that parochial consideration should be taken into account for the appointment of judges. He also stated that it is important to bring about transparency in the appointment of judges. Prof. Krishna Mahajan, Dean, Faculty of Law, National Law University, Odisha in the same session emphasised the importance of ‘integrity’ and ‘ability’ as the essential attributes of a judge and suggested the candidature of judges to be thrown open to public scrutiny for their better accountability.
This session was chaired by Prof. Afzal Wani, Formerly, Dean, Faculty of Law, Indraprastha University and Member, Law Commission of India.
Prof.(Dr.) Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Odisha stated that the National Law University is organising such seminars and bringing together experts and scholars in the field of legal education aims at ‘justice education’ and not just legal education. The Seminar was organised keeping in view the idea that “Enquiry of factors both within and beyond the judicial structure is essential to properly fathom the depth and nuances of the problems of the judiciary”, said Prof. (Dr.) Afroz Alam, Organising Secretary of the Seminar, who is the Head of the Department of Liberal Arts, National Law University, Odisha.
The occasion was graced by the august presence of Chief Guest Hon’ble Shri Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha along with eminent persons like Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dipak Mishra, Judge, Supreme Court of India (as the Chief Speaker) and Prof. Mool Chand Sharma, Former Vice-Chairman, University Grants Commission & presently Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Haryana (as the Guest of Eminence) in the inaugural session. This session was presided over by Hon’ble Justice Gopala Gowda, Chief Justice, High Court of Odisha & Hon’ble Chancellor, National Law University, Odisha.
The second day of the Seminar also saw paper presentations by students and academicians from reputed institutions from all across India. The Valedictory Address was given by Prof(Dr.) P.Ishwar Bhat, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University of Juridicial Sciences, Kolkata and the Presidential Address was given by Hon’ble Justice V. Gopala Gowda, Chief Justice, High Court of Odisha and Hon’ble Chancellor, National Law University, Odisha.