The Punjab and Haryana High Court has started proceedings against judicial officers, compulsorily retiring some of them. While it is the first time that the HC has taken action on such a large scale to send across the message of zero tolerance of indiscipline in the subordinate judiciary, it is important to ensure that all the errant officers are removed or suitably chastised while upholding the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The judiciary is not just a torch-bearer of justice, but also the custodian of the Constitution, the last resort that people take to in the face of executive and legislative apathy. The judiciary has issues of its own, but it also has the responsibility to guard against overreach.
The pandemic exacerbated problems for the judiciary in the form of discontinuation of physical hearings in courts, prolonging litigation even further. While the use of video-conferencing did help to some extent, the reach of technology is equally important for seamless working. Along with the judges and the lawyers, there are other staff that help in court work, making monitoring a tough job. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had faced a complex situation earlier in the cash-at-doorstep case in which action was initiated. A former Chief Justice of the High Court, Tirath Singh Thakur, who went on to become the CJI, had lamented before the Prime Minister about the load of litigation and vacancies not being filled or getting stuck at the level of the government.
Of late, appointments have been made to High Courts, which can be termed as a right step. Along with this, there is a need to build on the relationship between the Bar and the Bench to enable a hassle-free atmosphere for functioning. Frivolous litigation also needs to be guarded against. The subordinate judiciary plays a crucial role in the dispensing of justice. The possibility of training and sensitising its members should be looked into to make it efficient and effective along with the welcome measures taken by the HC.