Stalin reiterates Tamil Nadu’s demands on judiciary to PM Modi, CJI
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Supreme Court Chief Justice N.V. Ramana to reiterate three demands “of the people of Tamil Nadu” — to maintain social diversity and social justice in the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, to establish regional benches of the Supreme Court and to declare Tamil as the official language of the Madras High Court.
In his letters to the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India, Mr. Stalin referred to the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts and contended that for the past few years, “we have been witnessing declining representation from all the sections of the society in the higher judiciary, leading to a ‘diversity deficit’. He underlined that “judicial diversity was fundamental to the quality of judging”.
“A broad-based, heterogeneous group of judges representing various sections of the society as a whole alone can reflect the views and values of society as a whole, particularly on issues involving historical, traditional, linguistic and cultural matters. This is because they would provide wider perspectives, since the group of Judges would naturally interpret and enforce law based on their multi various backgrounds,” Mr. Stalin contended.
The Chief Minister went on to request them to include the requirements to maintain social diversity and social justice in the appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges in the Memorandum of Procedure to appoint judges and follow the same in true letter and spirit.
Article 32 of the Constitution was practically available only to citizens, who are geographically close to the Supreme Court and the financially privileged class to whom costs of litigation and travel does not matter, he contended and said: “Such a situation is antithetical to the constitutional mandate under Article 39.”
He said the people in many States were deprived of their fundamental right to approach the Supreme Court owing to its location in Delhi. “While there are 25 High Courts across the nation, it is seen from data that the number of appeals being filed in the Supreme Court is more from States around the NCR region than States located further away from Delhi,” Mr. Stalin pointed out.
Article 130 of the Constitution permitted the Court to sit in other places in the country and the Standing Committees of Parliament had recommended the same in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and most recently in 2021, besides various Law Commission reports, Mr. Stalin said and argued: “Establishment of Regional Benches will in no way affect the independence of the judiciary since the control over these Benches would still remain with the Chief Justice of India.”
Regional SC Benches
Mr. Stalin urged them to take appropriate steps to establish Permanent Regional Benches of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai, apart from the Constitution Bench in New Delhi, so that the citizens in other parts of this vast country had equal access to the Supreme Court. Citing the case of four High Courts — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — where Hindi had been authorised as the official language in addition to English, Mr. Stalin observed, “One, therefore, wonders what is the impediment to make the official language of other States the official language of the High Court, in addition to English?”
“ In this regard, I wish to inform that the State has taken several initiatives to bring out standard books on law in Tamil and moreover as a language that is both classical and a vibrant modern language it would be perfectly suitable to be used in the High Court,” he said.
Furthermore, he said he considered that making law and justice comprehensible to the common man in its proceedings was essential in the justice delivery system. The only concern with making the State’s official language the language of the High Court could be the requirement of translation when Judges from other States sat in the High Court, he noted and said, “However, with the improvement in modern technology, these difficulties can be easily bridged.”
Recalling a function on April 23 in the Madras High Court, where he shared the dais with the Chief Justice, who had said in a lighter vein that “judicial proceedings cannot be like chanting of mantras in a wedding that nobody understands”, Mr. Stalin said: “Yet, this has unfortunately become true in today’s High Courts.”
He further reiterated the need for taking appropriate steps to declare Tamil, the official language of the Government of Tamil Nadu, as the official language of the High Court of Judicature at Madras and its Bench at Madurai, in addition to English.