The Allahabad High Court recently observed that dilution of constitutional autonomy of the High Courts would threaten the concept of judicial federalism envisaged in the Constitution and affirmed by judicial precedents.
Further, emphasizing that the Allahabad High Court has a history of more than 130 years which predates most constitutional courts in the country, the Court also noted that it has earned the abiding the trust of the people of the State by dispensing fair and impartial justice and by the probity of conduct of the Bar and the Bench alike.
The Bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot observed thus in a matter wherein the Uttar Pradesh Government assured it, that it won’t create any impediment in the hearing of Tablighi Jamaat cases and that the Court shall be assisted with full honesty in the matters.
The assurance by the UP government came days after its counsels were heavily criticized by the Court for failing to produce the affidavit as directed by this Court, being negligent in informing the police officials about the Court’s orders, and creating impediment in the commencement of the hearing of the matter.
Read more about it here: Tablighi Jamaat Cases: “No Impediment Will Be Caused”: UP Govt Assures Allahabad HC After Receiving Flak Over Delaying Hearing
“The understanding of particularized circumstances of the society and the facts of the case is essential to dispense justice in a State like Uttar Pradesh. The richness of the State of U.P. is reflected in the diversity of its heritage. The disparities in society are manifested in the challenges faced by the State and the complex issues arising before the High Court,” the Court highlighted.
Court’s significant observations
The Court observed that the people of the State of U.P. approach the Court with full confidence and no constraint and as a result of this, the Court has the largest docket size in the country, and the workload on Judges in the Allahabad High Court is the highest in the country.
The Court also noted that considering the unique circumstances of our country, most citizens are not likely to go beyond the High Court in search of justice and further added thus:
“An overwhelming majority of the citizens make the Allahabad High Court, the final temple in their pursuit of justice. Primarily it is the quality of justice and trust in the institution which persuades the majority of our citizens to accept the finality of the judgments of the Allahabad High Court. High Court is the litigative terminus for other reasons as well, including litigation fatigue, financial burden, and desire for closure. The Allahabad High Court is final because of the citizens’ choice as the court of last resort.”
Further, the court also highlighted that in the absence of powers equivalent and analogous to that of the Supreme Court or sans the constitutional autonomy, the High Courts will not be able to effectively and faithfully discharge their constitutional functions and resultantly, they will be unable to retain the confidence of the people in their capacity for justice.
Against this backdrop, the Court also stressed upon the importance of Judicial federalism, which envisages congruent areas of responsibility of the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
“The foremost constitutional aim of dispensing fair and impartial justice to all citizens and evolution of just laws in a country as vast and variegated as India cannot be achieved without a credible structure and effectively functioning system of judicial federalism…Judicial federalism shall prosper or perish depending upon mutual respect between constitutional courts, and the quality of the constitutional dialogues between them,” the Court added.
In this context, the Court underscored that the constitutional autonomy of the High Courts may be diminished by various factors. Construing appellate jurisdiction as conferring supervisory powers may compromise the constitutional autonomy of the High Courts, the Court said.
Importantly, emphasizing that participation in the judicial process is restricted and that consequences of judicial verdicts can be widespread, the Court opined that the Concept of Judicial federalism, by enlarging participation in legal debates and deepening sensitivity in judicial approach, enables constitutional courts to effectively address myriad facets of justice in a diverse society.
“When all High Courts have a share in creating common constitutional values, it will add a judicial content to the unity of India. Unity of judicial values contributes to the inherent oneness of India,” the Court further added.
The Court also stressed that civility in judicial speech is the precursor to judicial wisdom and therefore, the Court opined thus:
Against this backdrop, the Court also highlighted the resultant reluctance of judges to exercise lawfully vested constitutional or inherent powers in the service of justice as it observed thus:
Thereafter, the court discussed several case laws which have emphasized that judicial decorum has to be maintained by the Courts at all times and even where criticism of a ruling is justified it must be in the language of utmost restraint.
Lastly, the Court observed that apathy of the bureaucracy and at times of citizens, poverty, inequalities, prejudices, environmental degradation and above all the need to give hope for justice are some of the local circumstances which make the process of law and administration of justice vibrant and evolutionary concepts in the State of U.P.
In this context, the Court added, summoning of officers or other parties to the court are at times required in the facts and circumstances of a case as it emphasized that the power of summoning officials or other parties is exercised from time to time in the Allahabad High Court solely for the high purpose for which it is vested namely in the interests of justice.
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