President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said that indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intention, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary and asked judges to exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in courtrooms.
Addressing an event, he said that justice is the critical fulcrum around which democracy revolves and it gets further strengthened if the three institutions of the state -- the judiciary, the legislature and the executive -- are in a harmonious existence.
"In the Constitution each institution has its defined space within which it functions," Kovind said, delivering the valedictory address at the Constitution Day celebrations, organised by the Supreme Court to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India.
He said that there is no doubt that the judiciary has set a high bar for itself.
"Hence, it is also incumbent upon the judges to exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in the courtrooms. Indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intention, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary," Kovind was quoted as having said in a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The President said the judiciary is the most trusted institution in the people's view.
He said that it pains him no end, therefore, to note that of late there have been cases of some disparaging remarks against the judiciary made on social media platforms.
"These platforms have worked wonderfully to democratise information, yet they have a dark side too. The anonymity granted by them is exploited by some miscreants," Kovind said.
Expressing hope that this is an aberration and it will be short-lived, he wondered what could be behind this phenomenon.
The President asked all to collectively examine the reasons behind it for the sake of a healthy society.
Speaking about the cost of justice, he said that in a developing country like ours, a very small section of the citizens can afford to knock on the doors of the court of justice.
"From lower courts to the Supreme Court, it becomes increasingly difficult for an average citizen to seek redressal of grievances," Kovind said.
He wished to see increased access to legal aid and advisory services for all, and added that it can take the form of a movement or of a better institutionalised mechanism.
Pointing to the long pendency of cases, the President said that it is high time all stakeholders find a way out by keeping national interest above all.
"At the risk of repeating myself, I would like to once again point to the cost of justice. In a developing country like ours, a very small section of the citizens can afford to knock on the doors of the court of justice. From lower courts to the Supreme Court, it becomes increasingly difficult for an average citizen to seek redressal of grievances," he said.
Kovind said he knew much has been written about it, and pertinent suggestions have been made to address the issue.
"Yet, the debate continues and the pendency keeps increasing too. Ultimately, the citizens and organisations that have grievances bear the brunt. What can be done to quicken the pace of justice? The obvious answer is reform. But 'reform' is an umbrella term under which different stakeholders wish to see different things.
"The suggestions and attempts so far show that the steps required for the purpose need to be broad-based to evolve a consensus about the reforms. The issue of pendency has ramifications for economic growth and development too. It is high time all stakeholders find a way out by keeping national interest above all. Technology can be a great ally in this process," he said.
Kovind said the pandemic has hastened the adoption of information and communication technology in the domain of the judiciary.
He expressed confidence that young minds in this field would further propel the use of computers and the internet to serve the cause of justice and to serve the citizens.
The President spoke about pendency of cases and appointment of judges and made it clear that "I am of the firm view that the independence of the judiciary is non-negotiable" but asked whether "without diluting it to the slightest degree, can a better way be found to select judges for the higher judiciary?"
"For instance, there can be an all-India Judicial Service which can select, nurture and promote the right talent, right from the lower levels to the higher levels."
Kovind said the idea is not new and has been around for more than half a century without being tested.
"I am sure that there could also be other, better suggestions for reforming the system. Ultimately, the aim should be to strengthen the justice delivery mechanism," the president said.