Role of judges is to serve people, not to be worshiped as 'gods' in 'temples of justice': CJI DY Chandrachud


Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud emphasized the dangers of deifying judges during the inaugural session of the two-day East Zone II regional conference of the National Judicial Academy in Kolkata. He asserted that the role of judges is to serve the public interest, not to worship them like gods.

CJI Chandrachud expressed his uneasiness with the notion of the court as a “temple of justice”, implying that judges hold god-like status.

He remarked, “Too much, we are addressed as honor or lordship or ladyship. There is a great danger when people say that the court is the temple of justice. There is a grave danger that we think of ourselves as gods in these temples.

He advocated seeing judges as servants of the people, fostering compassion and empathy.

“I want to reimagine the role of the judge as a servant of the people. And when you think of yourselves as people who are there to serve others, then you have empathy, compassion, judgment. Bring imagination but do not judge others.” CJI added.

He said that even when sentencing someone in a criminal case, judges do so with feelings of compassion because in the end a human being is punished.

The Chief Justice also said that “The word 'contemporary' is very important because it does not speak to the work we do in the abstract, but rather in the context of the contemporary societal challenges we face in our work as judges. The point of social context. See its intersection of law and technology with the people we serve in our communities.”

Addressing the theme of the conference, CJI Chandrachud emphasized the importance of “constitutional ethics” in the judiciary, which is linked to contemporary social challenges. They said, “The real merit of our work is to address the challenges faced by the very people at whose feet we seek to serve – the common citizens of India”. They said.

He discussed the importance of “constitutional ethics”, which he described as addressing contemporary societal challenges facing judges. He said that the judiciary's commitment to constitutional ethics is beyond abstract concepts and is linked to real social problems.

The real merit of our work is to address the challenges faced by the people at whose feet we aim to serve the common citizens of India.” They said.

The Chief Justice also cautioned against allowing personal values ​​and beliefs to influence decisions contrary to constitutional values. He highlighted the importance of preserving India's diversity within its federal structure and noted that the constitutional ethos is reflected in the social values ​​enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.

“We may be experts in constitutional interpretation, but a just society is built with the court's vision of constitutional morality,” They said.

He emphasized that constitutional ethics involves dialogue within and between societies, not just between the state and its citizens. This principle should guide judges at all levels, including the district court, where the average citizen's engagement with the judicial system begins.

Emphasizing the role of technology in the judiciary, CJI Chandrachud pointed out that language barriers impede access and understanding of judicial decisions, which are often written in English. He highlighted the ongoing efforts to develop AI-assisted software to translate the Supreme Court's 37,000 judgments into all constitutionally recognized regional languages.

“Technology can give us some answers. We are translating 51,000 judgments into other languages.” He said that he highlighted the efforts of the judiciary to make legal results more accessible to the public.

He outlined other technology-based measures to improve judicial efficiency, such as digitizing Supreme Court judgments, decentralizing judicial access to reduce travel burden on litigants, judicial procedures. Increase public awareness, and effectively classify cases.

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