Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during the Constitution Day celebrations in the Supreme Court, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that be it people or institutions "our responsibilities" should be "our first priority" to take the nation to greater heights as it marches ahead towards the centenary of its independence.
In his inaugural address at the Constitution Day celebrations in the Supreme Court premises, Modi also said that defying initial apprehensions about its stability, India is moving ahead with full force and taking pride in its diversity.
He also launched new initiatives under the e-court project, which provide services to litigants, lawyers and the judiciary through information and communication technology enabled courts.
The initiatives included 'virtual justice clock', 'JustIS' mobile app 2.0, digital court and 'S3WaaS' websites.
The Constitution Day celebrations also saw President Droupadi Murmu stressing that the legislature, the executive and the judiciary need to have “one thinking” for the country and its people.
The onus to make the process of seeking justice affordable is on all of us, she said while urging the executive, judiciary and legislature to evolve an effective dispute resolution mechanism to mitigate the people's plight.
In her valedictory address, she also suggested decongesting jails by helping poor people languishing there for years for their involvement in petty crimes.
“It is said that jails are getting overcrowded and there is a need to make more jails. Are we moving towards development? What's the need to make more jails? We need to reduce them,” she said speaking in Hindi.
In his address, Modi termed the Amrit Kaal, the journey of next 25 years to emerge as a developed nation, as 'Kartavya Kaal' –- an era of fulfilling the fundamental duties.
"The 'Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal' is the time for duty towards the country. Be it people or institutions, our responsibilities are our first priority," the prime minister said, underlining that by walking the path of one's duties, the country can attain new heights of development.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said the fundamental rights are those responsibilities that should be fulfilled by citizens with utmost dedication and true integrity.
The Constitution Day celebrations were attended by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, judges of the Supreme Court, Attorney General R Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Vikas Singh.
Rijiju said the government is doing everything possible to strengthen the judicial system and has a "very close, cordial relationship" with the judiciary.The remarks come close on the heels of the minister attacking the Collegium system of appointment of judges and describing it as something "alien" to the Constitution.
Rijiju also noted that the representation of women in judiciary has increased in the last 70 years, but much distance needs to be traversed to address the needs of providing diversity in the higher courts.
CJI Chandrachud asserted that technology must be augmented with institutional reforms to resolve issues of access to justice, and it is essential to simplify the litigation process and make it "citizen centric".
He said the judiciary has been adopting technology to improve the working of courts and it is of "supreme importance" that courts are remodelled to reach out to citizens instead of them reaching out to courts in their quest for justice.
Justice Chandrachud said the legislature and the executive “must enable” the practice of democratic ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity besides the courts sustaining these values by “foregrounding” them in their judicial decisions.
Venkataramani stressed on the need to decongest the Supreme Court and said it is important that the government stops overloading it with endless statutory appeals and huge flow of cases from high courts.
He said there is a need to have a litigation policy for the government so that every matter does not become a matter of litigation.
Meanwhile, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge hit out at the government alleging that the Constitution faces an existential crisis and India is no longer a collaborative federal nation.