India Today

A new court is in session

With approaching elections and a pile-up of high-profile cases, the year ahead brings formidable challenges for the court of new CJI Ranjan Gogoi, but in tow comes the opportunity to assert the centrality of the apex court

"I have a plan." When Justice Ranjan Gogoi confided in young lawyers at a Youth Bar Association lecture in New Delhi on September 29, just three days before donning the robe of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), heads jerked up. For ears used to hearing brusque, "Arguments heard," that genial informality created an almost traumatic effect. "Two things are troubling me," he said, "pendency of cases" and "providing justice to the poverty-stricken population". As he explained how people sometimes get justice after two or three generations in civil cases, calling for "everyone's support," to put his action plan into effect, the auditorium echoed with thunderous applause.

Take a truth test: walk up the majestic flight of steps to the iconic building of the Supreme Court of India. Stand below the classical pediment. Take in the sea of people robed in black and white. Walk through the colonnaded portico, down the rows of courtrooms. You will get to

see the gavel-to-gavel action of the nation's highest court in just 11 out of 15 halls of justice. What about the rest? No judges to fill those with. In fact, active courtrooms may just gradually shrink to nine, as CJI Gogoi takes charge for 11 months. The presiding

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