Chief Justice of India SA Bobde has said the three organs of the government should act together during crises amid allegations that the Supreme Court has been following the government’s decisions on the coronavirus outbreak. India has a total of 28,380 coronavirus cases as of Monday evening and the toll rose to 886.
In an interview to NDTV on Monday, Bobde said: “In times of crisis three organs of government should act in harmony for getting over the crisis...Patience is the need of the hour and the whole country is being called to exercise patience.”
The chief justice said that the executive would be more equipped to deal with an epidemic or a disaster, adding it is better placed to decide “how men, money, material should be used and prioritised”. Bobde said the courts would intervene when the executive’s moves endangered lives.
He said the courts have not taken time off during the nationwide lockdown. “We are not taking rest and we are working and disposing of the cases,” he said. “We work 210 days in a year as per our calendar.”
The chief justice said the top court had done what was possible to resolve the migrant movement crisis triggered due to the pandemic. The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre one week to respond to a plea seeking to allow migrant labourers to return to their hometowns amid the lockdown till May 3 to combat the Covid-19. The court asked the Centre to respond on whether any proposal has been formulated for returning the workers to their villages.
“We have asked the government to report to us on the actions they are taking in all this: medical, nutritional, regarding shelter and transportation and whether transportation is consistent with social distancing norms,” the judge told The Indian Express.
On setting up of a monitoring committee, Bobde said the court would not be able to keep a track of the activities of all officers in over 700 districts. “We can certainly ask and have asked government what is being done and they have reported steps they are taking, there is no reason to find fault,” he said.
Bobde said earlier there was less pressure to litigate on the courts. In January, 205 cases were filed every day in the Supreme Court and 305 were done through e-filing in all of April.
The chief justice said his vision of a post-coronavirus world would include people, judges and lawyers realising that large gatherings were unnecessary in the administration of justice. “Maybe the importance of the brief, precise argument, oral or written, would have been established,” he said.
Bobde noted that if court records were digitised in each of the 17,500 district courts, then it would serve as a foundation for the launch of Artificial Intelligence. “It will be most effective when it has electronic data to work on,” he said. “We were meant to launch AI in March but could not do so. An algorithm has enormous speed. Ten lakh words per second!”