Published On: Sat, Feb 22nd, 2020

Rule of law fundamental feature of modern Constitutions: CJI

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde said on Saturday that the most fundamental feature of majority of modern constitutions is the idea of the “rule of law”.

At the heart of the Constitution is the individual whose rights are recognised as ‘fundamental’

The Chief Justice, while speaking at the International Judges’ Conference on “Judiciary and the Changing World” at the Supreme Court, said a feature often neglected is a chapter on fundamental duties (in the Constitution) which imposes on every citizen the duties to abide by.

He said there are more than 50 countries in the world having specific provisions with regard to fundamental duties in their respective constitutions.

“At the heart of the Constitution is the individual whose rights are recognised as ‘fundamental’. These rights have been beautifully balanced with the demands of public order, morality and health,” the Chief Justice said.

He insisted that the Constitution also created a strong and independent judiciary, which is separated from the executive and the legislature. “We have strived at every turn, not just as a judicial institution, but also as a citizenry to keep these basic ideals intact,” he added.

Bobde said that right from 1950, the judiciary looked for inspiration from across the globe to find creative solutions to constitutional problems.

“In the first important case on fundamental rights, (AK Gopalan vs State of Madras), the Supreme Court quoted law from the American, Japanese, Irish, Canadian, Australian and English courts. Ever since, we have not shied away from looking for inspiration, wherever possible,” said the Chief Justice.

He also emphasised on the role of technology in the changing the world. “The Zeitgeist of our times has been incredible technological advancement,” he said.

“Judiciaries all over the world are dealing with this kind of change — what might be called a rights revolution, a technological revolution and a demographic revolution. Our decisions no longer impact only those who live in our jurisdiction, but also those who live in other jurisdictions, somewhere far away,” the Chief Justice said.

Speaking on the historical perspective of rule of law, the Chief Justice cited the 2,000-year-old history of Indian jurisprudence and said, “Before these cultures reached our shores, India had a well-established system of courts. The rules were all contained in the scriptures which prescribed a mandatory open hearing in courts, in the presence of officials of the court. For example, the Vyasa Smriti provides the various stages of a valid decision.”

Attorney General KK Venugopal also spoke at the gathering on the relationship between law and poverty, and referred to the steps and welfare projects undertaken by successive governments to eradicate poverty.

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