Bhuj (Gujarat):

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Saturday said the "trend of adjournment" in the country's judicial system increases the suffering of litigants and courts should not wait for citizens to die before delivering verdicts on cases.

He also expressed concern that the long-standing principle of 'bail is the rule, jail is the exception' is being weakened as district courts are hesitant to deal with cases involving personal liberty.

In his inaugural address at the All India District Judges' Conference at Dhordo in Gujarat's Kutch district, Chief Justice Chandrachud said the pendency of cases posed 'a serious challenge' to the efficient administration of justice.

“A big issue is the trend of adjournments,” he said.

"This practice of repeatedly requesting for delay in proceedings has a far-reaching impact on the efficiency and integrity of our legal system."

The Chief Justice said, “The general public believes that the practice of adjournment has become a part of the judicial system.

This can increase the suffering of the litigants and perpetuate the cycle of pendency of cases.

Citing the example of a farmer's legal heirs getting embroiled in legal proceedings, Justice Chandrachud said, "We should not wait for our citizens to die before deciding their cases."

He said that to overcome the problem of pendency of cases, a multi-pronged approach is required encompassing systemic reforms, procedural reforms and use of technology.

The Chief Justice said that the role of the District Judge is important in streamlining the court processes, expediting the disposal of cases and promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

He said there is a growing fear that district courts are becoming reluctant to consider cases related to personal liberty.

Justice Chandrachud said, "The long standing principle that 'bail is the rule, jail is the exception' seems to be weakening as appeals against the rejection of bail pleas by lower courts are being filed in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. This trend suggests the need for a thorough re-evaluation, he said.

The Chief Justice said that the district judiciary acts as a primary forum between the justice system and the local communities and it should continuously improve its functioning so that people's confidence in the judiciary is maintained.

He also said that judges in the district judiciary should be conscious of the language used in court proceedings and judgments.

The CJI said that judges should not be unnecessarily influenced by criticism and comments on social media.

“The role of a judge is to deliver justice impartially without being influenced by external pressure or public opinion,” he said.