"I truly believe in the independence of the Judiciary, but that does not stop us (government) from having a very cordial and seamless coordination and relationship (with the judiciary)", Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju said during the valedictory session of the Conference of Central Government Counsel- Southern Region 2022 that was held today at the Kerala High Court.

The presidential address in the session was delivered by the Chief Justice of Kerala, Justice S. Manikumar.

Delivering the valedictory address, the Minister said that immediately upon taking charge as the Union Law Minister, he conveyed his message to the Chief Justice of India that he wants a very harmonious relationship between the Ministry and the Judiciary.

He said that he has ensured that the appointment of judges of the High Court is being given priority. "It needs to be given a push and for that, it is not the government alone, but the Collegium, as well as the government, must work in tandem. We are doing everything possible. Whatever is the demand of time, we will do it. I can assure you that from my side, there will be no lacking in terms of cooperation", the Minister added.

The Minister said that he believes in teamwork and that he believes in 'doing' much more than 'speaking'. "I can share many things about what I want to do or what I think about the legal system in the country. But as I said, I prefer to listen and take suggestions as much as possible and apply all the meaningful suggestions into the functioning of the government", he added.

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav

On the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Minister said that the role of the Judiciary is very critical. "When we say justice, it means nothing unless we reach out to the people. Justice is not only delivered from courtrooms, it can be brought straight to the doorsteps of people", the Minister said while elaborating on the legal outreach program of the central government.

He said that there are many challenges while celebrating the 75 years of independence. "Some of the people are not even aware of the process of reaching out to the Courts. Many people in rural India have to struggle to get the bare minimum entitlement. They sell off properties and collect money for court fees and for fees for Advocates", the Minister said while stating that we must ponder why judgments are delayed in cases.

Delay in Conclusion of Cases

Simultaneously, the Minister acknowledged that the lives of judges are difficult. "After taking charge of the Ministry I realised that when judges sit on the bench, it is non-stop and without any break". "Once I was with Chief Justice of India at 12 past midnight. I said sir you take rest, I will also go home. He said no I am going to read the cases for tomorrow. So that means the lives of judges are not easy. It is a moral responsibility on my part also to tell the people what is the life of a judge", the Minister said.

Simplifying Laws

The Minister also talked about simplifying laws. He said that sometimes lawmakers make things complicated. "In 2014, the Prime Minister decided that attestation by the gazetted officer to certify certain things about citizens is not required. Let the citizen himself certify. It worked wonders. Let us trust our citizens." "Burden on common man must be reduced. The compliances are so much, that the common man is under the burden of the compliances. We have removed more than 1400 obsolete laws, we will do more. Hon'ble Prime Minister has given a clear cut direction. I am also working on that." "We need to simplify the laws, I have told officers in the legislative department to think of drafting laws in the simplest language. If somebody is writing a poem let him use complicated words and languages. But the law must be simple", the Minister said.

He also said that Lawyers must not make a case lengthy. He said that he has informed all the officers in all departments that the briefing of the Lawyers must be done by senior officers.

Protecting Institution of Judiciary

"My faith on the Court is absolute. We have full faith in the Indian Judiciary. Common people have faith in the Judiciary. It is very important to maintain the dignity, respect and position of the Courts. It is not only incumbent upon the Judges, but all of us to ensure that the faith of the common people upon the Judiciary is maintained at any cost. We say that India is a robust, large and successful democracy, one of the key reasons is that we have a successful judicial system in the country", Kiren Rijiju said.

Judicial Intervention In Developmental Projects

On Court intervening in developmental projects, the Minister said that "Courts do stay projects which are of great national importance. Courts do not want to stall any project. There are reasons for staying projects. No Judge would deliberately like to stall any project of national importance. It is the duty of the Law Officers to convey the message in an appropriate manner to the Court so that the aim and objective of all of us to make India a prosperous and successful nation is fulfilled".

Judicial Infrastructure

The Minister spoke about the 9000 crore rupees that has been approved by the Cabinet for the lower judiciary. "It is not proper for me to see that a judge is staying in a rented house. In some places, Courts are functioning from temporary locations. It is not good for the judiciary. I have appealed to all the state governments to utilise all the money centre is providing to fulfil the needs of the judiciary". He added that in the last seven years, the government has increased the number of Judges by close to 19%.

E-Committee of Supreme Court

The Minister praised the E-Committee of the Supreme Court headed by Justice D. Y. Chandrachud. "The E-Committee headed by Justice Chandrachud is doing a fantastic job. We had a good discussion. I told him if he needs any help, I am ready to provide. Justice Chandrchud was very forthcoming. He said we are taking forward the vision of the Hon'ble Prime Minister of Digital India. E-Committee is doing a wonderful job. It is coordinating with all the High Courts".

Minister Kiren Rijiju concluded by saying that he is proud of all the members of the legal fraternity.

Earlier in the day, Justice C.T. Ravikumar of the Supreme Court spoke at the inaugural session. (read report)

In the second session, Justice N. Nagaresh of Kerala High Court spoke on the subject, "75 years of independence and Indian legal system". The presidential address in that session was delivered by Justice E. S. Indiresh of the Karnataka High Court.

The third session was a talk by Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan of the Kerala High Court on the subject "Technology and legal system- challenges and opportunities". The presidential address in the session was delivered by Senior Advocate Vivek Subha Reddy.

The event was the 4th of its kind, a meet of Central Government Counsel of the southern states. The last meet, prior to the pandemic, was held in Chennai.