CHENNAI: Lawyers should ensure they do not suffer from the "disease of adjournment" and procrastinate the progress of cases, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today said.
In his address at the 125th Anniversary celebrations of the Madras High Court Heritage Buildings, Justice Misra also said "punctuality is a facet of rule of law".
"All of us, members of the bench and the assisting counsel, should clearly understand that it is our obligation to sit on time as a judge (and) as lawyers to argue a case coming prepared," he said.
"If a lawyer delays, procrastinates, a judge doesn't sit on time, both of them violate the rule of law," he added.
Justice Misra said no lawyer should suffer from "any kind of disease."
"I would say (that is the) disease of adjournment..
When you ask for an adjournment, you must understand you are being killed by allergy," he said adding judges should develop an antidote towards adjournment.
Lawyers should keep in mind that "we should not procrastinate the cases", he said, pointing out not all of them require preparation.
"It is not that every case requires so much of preparation and all of you know it also. Please come prepared, don't seek adjournment," he said.
Even if a judge was inclined to grant adjournment, the lawyer should politely inform the former that he was ready with the case and that he could be heard.
Heaping praise on the Madras High Court, Justice Misra said it has a "great heritage".
"The Madras High Court has not only witnessed several landmark battles fought on its floors but has withstood literal attack on its existence (during World War I). But it never yielded to any kind of anarchy or chaos. It stands as a testimony of bravery," he said.
Earlier, the chief justice inaugurated a renovated light house and museum on the High Court campus. He was accompanied by Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad, Chief Justice of Madras HC Indira Banerjee and Chief Minister K Palaniswami.
In his address, Prasad said the government's focus was on the disposal of cases pending for 10 years and above.
"What I am trying to focus all over the country is that disposal of cases 10 years old and above must be settled and adjudicated on a priority basis," he said.
Of the 2.97 lakh pending cases in Tamil Nadu, a little over 77,000 cases were over 10 years old, Prasad said and called for a "mission-mode initiative" for their disposal.
Citing statistics till December 31, 2016, he said the number of such cases at the Madras High Court was 33,960 while it was 44,721 in district and subordinate courts.
"On the 125th anniversary of this magnificent building, this temple of justice, may I request to make a mission-mode initiative to dispose of all the cases which are more than 10 years old. That should be the benchmark and the commitment on this happy occasion," he said.
This was "very doable" and many high courts in the country were already taking steps in this regard, he added.
Prasad expressed joy over the Supreme Court's "new thirst for faster disposal" of pending cases and added that the government and judiciary were working together to bring "greater opportunity" for the poor for justice.
Digital technology is being used to ensure that the poor has access to justice, Prasad, who also holds IT portfolio, said, and referred to the government's Tele-Law and 'Nyayamitra' schemes in this regard.
"What is tele law. We have got nearly 2.7 lakh common service centres across the country, we married them with the legal volunteers and today poor people sit there, get justice through National Legal Services Authority," he said.
So far 2,900 requests have been made and more than 2,200 of them have been redressed, Prasad added.
The minister urged young lawyers to register online as per the Nyayamitra scheme, saying their services would be utilised to serve the poor in need of justice.
He also praised the history and heritage of the Madras High Court, saying it laid down the foundation that a court should also be known for its architectural history and not just judicial history.
Many chief justices from the court had been elevated to the apex court, he added.
Chief Minister Palaniswami said the Constitution provided people the right to justice.
"It is a matter of pride that the Madras High Court has been delivering judgements dispassionately," he said.
The judiciary, government and Legislative Assembly should "function independently within their borders", to ensure peace and joy for people, he said, adding that was the case in Tamil Nadu.
He referred to various initiatives undertaken by the state government to ensure speedy delivery of justice.
The government had earlier allotted Rs 56.34 crore towards constructing buildings for the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, he pointed out.
A Rs 100-crore National Law School was in operation at Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli district, he said.
Under former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the state government had proposed to the Centre to rename the Madras High Court as Tamil Nadu High Court, he said referring to an Assembly resolution in this regard.
His government was committed to fulfilling the needs of the judiciary, he added.