Justice Lalit, who took over as the 49th Chief Justice of India on August 27, said the apex court has adopted a new system of listing cases, and initially, there are bound to have some problems.
“Lots many things have been said about everything, including listing and other things. Let me clarify it is true that we have taken this new style, a new way of listing. There are naturally bound to have some problems. Whatever has been reported is not the correct state of affairs. We all judges are completely on the same page,” said Justice Lalit while speaking at a programme organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to felicitate him on becoming the CJI.
Justice Lalit was apparently referring to media reports claiming that an apex court bench has expressed displeasure in its judicial order over a new case listing mechanism introduced by the new CJI for speedy disposal of matters pending for years.
A bench headed by Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the number three-judge in seniority at present in the apex court, while hearing a criminal case passed the order, “The new listing system is not giving an adequate time to take up matters fixed for hearing like the present case as there is the number of matters within the span of ‘Afternoon’ session”.
The CJI said, from August 29 when the new system of listing of cases started till September 14, 5,200 cases were decided by the top court as against 1135 fresh filings.
Justice Lalit said this has been possible because of the efforts put in by all other judges of the Supreme Court and lawyers.
“In fact as a matter of fact, what Venugopal (Attorney General K K Venugopal) told us that till yesterday, as we began on August 29, we could dispose of 5000 matters, 5200 to be precise as against filing which was just about 1135. So fresh filing is 1135 and disposal is 5200. That has been possible because of the efforts put in by my brother and sister judges and all of you, the members of the bar.
“It is true that because of this changeover, there have been certain occasions and certain instances where the matters got listed at the eleventh hour with the shortest possible notice. That created a tremendous amount of workload for the judges and the advocates and I am really indebted to all my brother and sister judges for discharging everything with a smiling face and that is the reason we are able to dispose of 5200 cases as against 1135 filing which means that we have been able to reduce the arrears by let’s say 4000 which is a good beginning,” Justice Lalit said.
He said many of the cases were pending for a long and had become infructuous and had to be disposed of so they were listed and the results are before everyone.
The CJI said it had always been his dream that one day he could become a judge of the apex court and his wife, was always aware of what was at the back of his mind so there was no necessity and need to consult his wife when he got the actual call offering him judgeship.
“That is the reason I said in one of the speeches that when it came and when Justice R M Lodha (the then CJI) offered me (judgeship) I did not even consult my wife, it was in that background. It was not as if… no husband can ever do such a thing without consulting his wife,” he said.
Regarding the demands made by SCBA including a better library and facilities for lawyers, the CJI said all he could do is to promise that he will appoint committees to look into these demands and take decisions in this regard.
Revealing the secret behind his distinct way of arguing a matter when he was a lawyer, Justice Lalit said the man behind this was Attorney General K K Venugopal who has always been a role model to him.
The way Venugopal argues and places a matter and its facts so calmly put even the court in comfort, he said.
He ended his speech by saying that he considers himself to be lucky that he was a member of SCBA and the legal profession and this bar association has taught him everything.
“Maybe in two months’ time when I demit this office that will be the final icing on the case,” he said.
Speaking at the function, Venugopal said lawyers were happy that the country has a CJI of unquestionable integrity.
“We are all happy that one among us, who is a member of the SCBA, is holding the highest judicial office in the country. Only a few among us have had the privilege of being directly elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court of India. But what is unique about Chief Justice Lalit is that he is the second member from the Supreme Court bar who has attained the high office of the Chief Justice of India the first being Justice S M Sikri,” he said.
Venugopal said despite the heavy workload and the pressure to achieve a higher rate of disposal, Justice Lalit has not compromised on the quality and has been consistent in extending an extremely patient hearing to each and every counsel before him and making sure that one always leaves his court with the satisfaction of being heard fully.
Under the new mechanism, the judges of the top court are working in two different shifts.
The new system stipulates that on Monday and Friday of every week, 30 judges are to sit in a combination of two and deal with over 60 miscellaneous matters of each bench, including the fresh PILs.