This is the text of speech by Chief Justice Yatindra Singh on the occasion of welcome function held by the Chhattisgarh High Court Bar Association at old High Court building Bilaspur.
नमस्ते, जय जोहार, and a very good afternoon to all of you.
Thank you very much for inviting me here. It is a nice gesture on your part. It is a step towards a healthy relationship between bar and the bench, which is necessary as we are the two sides of the same coin.
Reference - Condolence
I am glad that the members of the Bar had requested for re-starting ovation. It is also a steps towards healthy bar and bench relationship. It is also proper to hold reference at the time of retirement of a Judge. But having reference at the time of death of members of the Bench or the Bar, is not such a good idea.
Today your strength is less but tomorrow when it increases, holding references on death may be time costly. Instead of having reference, we may have only condolence at 4:15 pm twice in a year i.e. on the first Friday after winter and summer vacation. Or, this may be four times in a year. On the first Friday, after winter, Holi, summer and Dussehra vacations.
During the condolence meetings, the Chief Justice or the Senior Judge may read the obituary and everyone stands for two minutes silence. There may not be speeches. This practice is being followed at Allahabad. This saves time and also pays homage to the dead person. Of course, in case one has to attend the cremation on the death of somebody a mention to pass over the case can always be made.
A condolence meeting may be held when a member of High Court Bar or the present or past member of the bench dies. But holding condolence meeting of some one who is neither member of your bar or was not even past member of the bench is perhaps not a good idea.
You may take a decision in this regard. This will set up a healthy tradition.
For a good vibrant Bar, it is essential that it should have a good library. I was told by my brother Judges that individual members of the Bar have good libraries, but it is not true for the Bar Association.
A well equipped bar library is necessary as it helps the junior members of the Bar. It is they, who will carry the traditions of the Bar.
There are many ways to improve the Bar library. A part of the money collected by the Bar Association should be utilised for the library. Senior members of the Bar should contribute for the same.
In Allahabad, I had requested the Bar Association to start a separate account,which should be utilised for purchasing books and computers. Library on a computer has many advantages. Apart from others, it saves space. A good printer and photostat machine will also help you to print judgements and getting it photostat to be passed on to the bench.
In Allahabad, sometimes I used to impose cost; it was to remind lawyers not to commit the same mistake again. The cost instead of being paid to the legal aid committee or the other side, was being deposited in the library account of the Bar Association.
The cost was fixed at ₹250/- with the consent of the members of the Bar. This was the minimum cost. A higher cost was imposed if the mistake was repeated.
You can also adopt similar procedure and open an account for purchase of library books and computers. A lower or higher cost may be imposed that can be deposited in that account.
At my ovation, I had spoken about fairness of the legal system and mounting arrears. In this connection I had spoken about transparency and better utilisation of information technology and management techniques. Some steps in this regard have been taken and I will like to share them with you:
(i) Transparency: Yesterday, the full court also passed two important resolutions:
(a) The assets of not only High Court Judges but also that of the subordinate judiciary will be on our website and can be seen by anyone.
(b) The minutes of our full court meeting will also be uploaded on the website however a decision to upload the minutes of other meetings will be taken subsequently.
(ii) Information technology: Here are some decision that we have taken:
(a) We will be shifting over to open source and I am thankful to the members of the bar that they took out time to attend the talk 'why should we shift over to Open Source'. In the talk, I had spoken about some programmes and you can always down load them without any cost from the Internet or may take them on a CD from the computer section. They will be happy to hand you one. Those interested may contact OSD Computers in the High Court.
(b) Two member IT team is being sent to Allahabad to see what kind of reports are being generated, how data is being uploaded and managed so that similar steps may be implemented here.
(c) The NIC has been asked to make the changes in the programme so that necessary reports may be generated. A NIC team is coming from Delhi during winter vacations and they will make the necessary changes so that necessary reports be generated.
(iii) Management techniques: Here are some decision taken and some proposed to be taken:
(a) With help of Brother Sapre and Brother Sinha, the constitution of the committees have been changed. It wasn't that earlier committees were not good but they were large and as the saying goes, 'too many cooks spoil the broth'. Now they have been made smaller and tighter; they can meet more often and work more efficiently.
(b) High Court rules are proposed to be amended. A rule is being proposed that in case notices are sent by the registered post with acknowledgement due and it is not received back with in 30 days then, there will be deemed service. You will be relieved from taking fresh steps. Another proposed rule is that in case steps are not taken within time then the case will be listed before the court and will be dismissed unless the steps are taken in the court.
Problems and Solutions
Your office bearers have been meeting me with some of your problems. I had suggested some tentative solutions to them; I would like to share with you.
(i) Too many defaults: The complaint is that many cases are listed for default that are not for the rules of the court but for some judicial orders. Defaults should be defined in the rules rather than by the judicial orders; by the judicial orders, only recommendation may be made to the court to consider the rule on the administrative side.
Nevertheless, sometimes there is delay in framing the rules and some of the Brother judges in their good intention pass the orders. The right way to remove them is file application in those cases or appeal or request the court consider them on the administrative side.
I have asked the Registrar Judicial to supply copies of those orders to your office bearers. I will be happy if you give your suggestions by drafting the appropriate rules. Please hand over them to the RG so that it may be considered by the rule making committee. In the newly constituted committee there are two advocates. They can put your point of view before the committee.
Once a rule is framed, this objection should go. In the meantime I am also requesting the computer committee to see that details of the defaults are uploaded on the Internet so that you can see and if you provide the details of your email, it could be emailed to you. In times to come this may be available in a RSS feed.
(ii) Construction of new chambers: The map for chambers have been approved; the tender process is on; the construction process will begin as soon as tenders are finalised.
(iii) Allotment of Chambers: There are complaints that chambers are not being allotted. The allotment of chambers is a complex issue. This is the reason that it was handed over to the the committee of three most important advocates. The ball is in your court; it is your representatives that have to take a decision in the matter. I hope they will finalise it soon.
(iv) Construction of shed: Yesterday, we have approved a power point map for the shed. Now a map will be prepared; the approval will be granted as it has been approved in principle. The construction of the shed will begin as soon final approval of the State government is granted.
(v) Construction of a multi-purpose hall: We have also requested the PWD to prepare map for a multi-purpose hall that may serve as a place for your meetings, library, and a place for holding seminar etc. But this will be undertaken after chambers and shed are constructed.
(vi) Finalisation of calender without consulting the Bar: Calender for the High Court should be finalised after consultation of the Bar Association and calender for the subordinate courts should be finalised after consulting Bar council. The RG has been so instructed and he will do so. My Allahabad experience tells me that suggestions are never received from the Bar; I hope my Chhattisgarh experience will be better and you will send your suggestions.
(vii) Closure of three Saturdays that are open in 1913: The Saturdays falling on 5th January, 27th April, and 24th November 1913 were declared to open. Their was a request from your side to close. We have not only closed them but also 16th, 19th August and 15th November so that all of us may have 6 days holidays in August and four days in November. In lieu of these six days, now we will work from 28th October to 1st of November and 1st of January. We should begin our new year with a working day rather than a close day.
(viii) Cricket practise: Some young lawyers approached me for some land for cricket net practise in the High Court. I have a suggestion. In the residential colony, a stadium is planned in the second phase. But a field and cricket pitch, along with net practise pitch can always be prepared. You can practise there and also play matches there on Saturday and Sunday but please involve the employees as well. I along with Brother Diwaker have already inspected the field. And Brother Diwaker will ensure this facility is soon available.
Once again, thank you very much for organising this function to welcome me and giving me opportunity to put our point across.