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A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Tatas moving out of urea production... A more liberated TN… Road development slows down TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership Fortune 500 review There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Vibrant Gujarat Why land prices zoom in TN? The Swadeshi Trump Cutting the nose to spite the face Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... Discoms deserve better… TGS- The king storyteller Gay abandon in pricing Building loyalty through the stomach More heat than light A friendly business group Why this malaise in medical education? Tribute – M V Murugappan Shipping woes of Chennai companies Polls and promises An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ Five star activism stalls development activity Demise of a media baron... Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai More Shakthi to Das’ elbow The rise and fall of Annamalai University L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Adharma of opposition politics The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals Editor's Notes L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… London, London Narayan Engineering seats go abegging Pharma – overdose of copying This scant respect for Law Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? Banning booze... S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist More tributes to GR Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad When online building permits work…. Kudos to NDTV... Welcome focus on core competence GNS - 100: our first subscriber Kinetic Karnataka Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Return to king coal for urea... 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Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform Robber barons everywhere A think tank for Chennai Editor's Says EVM is tamper-proof Tax agriculture Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan When small is no larger beautiful.. Shanti and Sadhana through Music Valli, they are more marginalised Towards speedy justice Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL Sweet news for TN sugar mills Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Noble nonagenarians... Breaththrough in malaria control Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks Recognition to role of NBFCs.... Tatas moving out of urea production... A professional at the helm of IRDA... …and of a popular trade leader Contrarian cousins PC’s preference for professionals Boy, can you beat these? No Maha Koottani in TN... Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Modi storms Silicon Valley CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. 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Towards speedy justice

For long, we have been pointing to the need for reform of the judiciary. There has been a huge pile up of cases at all three levels - district courts, High Courts, and the Supreme Court. An estimated four million cases are pending before the High Courts and 22.4 million cases before various other courts as of 12 August 2016. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur bitterly criticised the government for delaying the appointments of High Court judges. He pointed to 470 vacancies, 44.3 per cent of the total strength of judges.  “The entire system has collapsed. By the time an appeal is heard, the accused would have already served a life sentence.  This is unacceptable,” said the court.

The government has been sitting over this issue, stalling the transfer of judges and on the proposal of the Supreme Court Collegium on the appointment of 74 judges.

The sole power enjoyed by the Supreme Court for over two decades in the appointment and transfer of judges of the higher courts has not been to the liking of the executive. The government has been unhappy over the Apex Court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in October last year. The NJAC sought to end the Supreme Court’s sole power to appoint judges. The NJAC suggested power for the executive to have an equal say with the potential to veto the recommendations of the Supreme Court.  

Shortage of judges has been only a part of the malaise. Senior advocate C Ramakrishna points to the severe shortfalls in systems and procedures and the low productivity of the entire system. IE has also pointed to the lack of attention at the admission stage, the indiscriminate sanctioning of adjournments and total unconcern for completion of the whole process within a reasonable time frame.  

The government has been responsible for a large number of cases. Tamil Nadu perhaps provides a striking example of this with the ruling party initiating libel suits against political opponents and journalists in different courts. Add to this the litigation propensity of corporates, and the government not agreeing with the verdicts of lower courts.

A significant number of grossly underemployed advocates are politically oriented and indulge in agitations and protests at the drop of the hat. Scores of days are lost at the Madras High Court through such agitations.

It used to be standard practice for advocates to take processions inside the court halls and shout at the courts including that of the Chief Justice. On 19 February 2009, one witnessed the most bizarre of agitations with lawyers throwing stones at the police and unruly elements setting fire to the police station inside the court premises.

The present Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, has been seriously attempting to bring order. A couple of his decisions resulted in the transfer of Justice C S Karnan, who had been refusing to work along with the Chief Justice and other colleagues.

A few months ago, Chief Justice Kaul brought about a significant change: worried about the limitations and inadequacy of the state police; he succeeded in handing over the security to the Central Industrial Security Force. The advocates obviously have not been happy about this change.

Some lawyers in Madurai defied the order of the Madras High Court making it mandatory for two-wheeler riders to wear helmets. Bus loads of advocates from Madurai marched through the court’s corridor shouting slogans.

Sadly, one witnesses a lack of concern for the rule of law and adherence to court orders. For several weeks now, advocates have been paralysing court work in protest of the rules framed to deal with unruly lawyers. Several upright judges of the High Court have been seeking transfer to other courts. Justice V Ramasubramaniam is one such. This erudite scholar known for several outstanding judgments requested such a transfer and recently shifted to Hyderabad.

Time was when leading advocates of Tamil Nadu were in demand for representing cases in Delhi, Mumbai and elsewhere.  Today, one witnesses the sad spectacle of the absence of such brilliant lawyers in the corridors of Madras High Court. The government engages lawyers from the north or the west to represent its cases. The malaise seems to start from the law colleges, which have become breeding grounds for political confrontations.

 In this light, the present confrontation between the highest judiciary and the executive at the Center is a matter of concern.

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