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President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday expressed concern over the 31 million pending cases in Indian courts, noting that justice delayed is justice denied.
He said that the strength and effectiveness of the judiciary, which is the guardian of the country's democracy, depends on the two pillars of justice delivery system - quality and speed.
"Of these two pillars of an effective judicial architecture, our system is weak in speedily dispending justice. The backlog of cases in our courts is very concerting," Mukherjee said, speaking at the 150th anniversary of the Advocates Association of Western India (AAWI) here.
The president recalled the contributions of the distinguished members of the AAWI, the oldest bar association in the country who were in the forefront of not only bringing about rule of law in the country but also in the freedom struggle.
Outlining the history of evolution of legislative functioning and the judiciary, Mukherjee explained how the legal luminaries of the bar association were involved in creating various institutions in the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam said that the Indian courts have played a meaningful role in protecting the rights of the people.
He also explained the various endeavours being undertaken to reduce the backlog of cases in the country, including efforts to elevate judges and increase their numbers by 25 percent to address the issue of pendency of cases.
Sathasivam said that all courts from the sub-district levels to the Supreme Court are digitally connected.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, while praising the role of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a member of AAWI who played a significant role in framing India's constitution, spoke of the efforts underway to strengthen the judicial system in the state. Among them were the plans to set up three law universities in Mumbai, Nagpur and Aurangabad.
Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal recalled the role of the stalwarts of the AAWI in the freedom struggle and its contribution by way of many great lawyers and judges to the country.
Bombay High Court's Chief Justice Mohit Shah spoke about the evolution of the AAWI with six founders to a vibrant organisation which has contributed immensely to India's judicial system.
Later, President Mukherjee unveiled portraits of three former chief justices of India who were members of AAWI - P.B. Gajendragadhkar, J.C. Shah and Y.V. Chandrachud.
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan released a coffee table book on AAWI at the function attended by top legal luminaries.