Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Sunday cited the the prohibition law in Bihar as an example of “lack of foresight” in drafting legislation that leads to courts being inundated with cases. He said that it appears that the legislature has “not been able to make optimum use” of the Parliament Standing Committee system to “enhance scrutiny of Bills”.
“I hope this will change, as such scrutiny improves the quality of legislation,” CJI Ramana said while delivering the Fifth Late Shri Lavu Venkateswarlu Endowment Lecture on “Indian Judiciary: Challenges of Future” at Siddhartha Law College in Vijayawada.
CJI Ramana also termed as “one of the widely propagated myths” the charges that the Collegium system of appointment of judges amounted to judges appointing themselves.
“A lack of foresight in legislating can directly result in the clogging of courts. For example, the introduction of the Bihar Prohibition Act 2016 resulted in the High Court being clogged with bail applications. Because of this, a simple bail application takes one year to be disposed of,” the CJI said.
“Unrefined law leads to a mushrooming of litigation. A proposed law can only be refined through the involvement of all stakeholders and through meaningful debate. Parliament introduced a remarkable mechanism in the 1990s to enhance scrutiny of bills — that of standing committees. However, it appears that the legislature has not been able to make optimum use of the Committee system,” he added.
The CJI also responded to criticism of judicial overreach through the power of review, saying that “such generalisations are misguided”. He said that “if the judiciary does not have the power of judicial review, then the functioning of democracy in this country would be unthinkable”.