Have faith in judiciary: CJI-designate Justice Bobde on Ayodhya case

Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde.

New Delhi (IANS) “Have faith in the judiciary. We will do our job.” This is the message of Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, the Supreme Court Chief Justice-designate, on the Ayodhya title dispute on which a judgement is expected shortly from the top court.

Justice Bobde, the senior-most judge who will take over as Chief Justice of India from Justice Ranjan Gogoi who retires on November 17, is a member of the five-judge bench which conducted day-to-day hearing in the Ayodhya case for 40 days from August 6 to October 17. The bench is headed by Justice Gogoi.

Describing the Ayodhya hearing as “epic”, Justice Bobde, in an interview to IANS, said that he was privileged to be its part.

During the hearing, Justice Bobde asked some piercing questions to both Hindu and Muslim sides, especially on the aspect of divinity and its legal justification in this case.

He had asked probing questions to Muslim side in connection with the birth-spot of Lord Ram. Initially, the Muslim counsel conceded Lord Ram was born in the outer courtyard, but later retracted.

Justice Bobde queried the Muslim side on the essence of belief on one of their holiest places.

He also questioned the Hindu side on the legal justification of attaching divinity to the birthplace of Lord Ram.

While speaking to IANS, Justice Bobde acknowledged that the Ayodhya dispute is largely a matter connected with faith of millions.

“Ayodhya title dispute has legal issues, which should be addressed through a legal system,” he added.

“I don’t know of any similar dispute (Ayodhya matter) that has ever been heard by any court. It is a very important matter,” he said.

Justice Bobde, however, refused to discuss issues related to the hearing.

He also spoke on pressing legal issues and the road ahead, especially on aspects pertaining to access to justice for people in rural areas.

The Chief Justice-designate said once he takes over, he will be strengthening the legal apparatus for enabling easy access to justice for people in rural areas. “NALSA (National Legal Services Authority) is doing a great job on the issue of access to justice. I am a part of it. We will bring some positive changes in the system”, said Justice Bobde.

The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), formed on in November 1995 under the authority of the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, provides free legal services to eligible candidates, and organises Lok Adalats for speedy resolution of cases.

Justice Bobde referred to former Justices R.M. Lodha, B.M. Srikrishna and C.K. Thakkar as the judges whom he considers to be his role models.

He also stressed on balancing between privacy and transparency. “Balance has to be struck between them,” he said.

Asked what was the first thing he did after the official announcement, Justice Bobde said: “I took my mother’s blessing after the formal announcement.”

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