“Today climate change and global warming due to environmental degradation have emerged as real challenges to the existence of lives and livelihoods of billions of people across the world. The present circumstances have increased our responsibility manifold towards protecting the environment. This calls for a sense of urgency towards sustainability and environmental conservation in our day to day life”, Sarma said this while speaking at the inaugural session of National Judicial Seminar in the presence of Union Minister of Law & Justice Kiren Rijiju at Kaziranga.
The National Seminar organized by Gauhati High Court in collaboration with Government of Assam covered subjects on ‘Environment and Sustainable Development- Role of Judiciary’ and ’Digitization of Indian Judiciary- its impact on Dispensation of Justice’.
Sarma said that India’s traditional practices always reflected a sustainable lifestyle. The Vedic philosophy emphasized the undeniable connection that human beings share with nature. He further said that eenvironment provides us with almost all the resources for our survival. But all natural endowments are not limitless. Over-exploitation of resources and transformation of the natural environment in course of economic development has compelled the society to revisit its actions and look for urgent corrective measures to restore the wounded environment.
Highlighting various provisions incorporated in the Indian constitution regarding environmental protection, the Chief Minister viewed that sensible planning, balanced development and deployment of green technology would give us realistic solutions to save the environment. He also elaborated the Sustainable Development Goals and said that sustainability is a combination of a high level of human well-being and a high level of ecosystem well-being that supports it. He further said that in any modern polity, the Rule of Lawis a basic obligation for sustainable economic development and if progress is to be achieved, the poor must enjoy the benefits of the Rule of Law and have easy access to functioning institutions of justice.
The Chief Minister also appreciated the Indian Judiciary for its remarkable steps in protection of Environment and upholding the principles of Sustainable Development. He said that the Indian judiciary’s commitment to environmental protection has resulted in the innovative use of “Public Interest Litigation” as a tool for social and environmental justice. Moreover, its judgments in many of the cases have established the doctrine of sustainability in the development paradigm of the country.
Sarma also spoke about various steps taken for environment and wildlife protection by the state government saying that Assam is also actively pursuing the SDGs in all its Departments and many other government organizations. He said that the government has strengthened and increased Protected Area network by upgrading Reserve Forests to National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, declaring Wildlife Sanctuary as National Parks. This has been done for better protection and conservation of wild animals including elephants in Assam. He also informed that the State Government has also decided to increase forest cover of Assam from 36% to 38% in coming 5 years by way of large scale plantations.
Further speaking about digitization of Indian judiciary, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given special importance on digitization of the entire system. His vision is that digitalization, enabled by appropriate technologies, should be inter-operable so that maximum benefits can be harnessed for the benefit of the entire system. As such Digitization of Judiciary should not be seen in isolation, he said adding that the use of Digital platform across all pillars will ultimately help early disposal of case in the judiciary and would benefit the entire system.
Further appreciating the Supreme Court for introducing a new system of e-filing as a process tool and artificial intelligence as reference support infrastructure, which are characterized by efficiency, transparency and access to justice delivery system, the Chief Minister said that with introduction of this new system, India’s courts have ushered in a new and future-ready justice delivery system. He exuded confidence that use of technology in courts will ensure that by the end of the decade, judicial system is revamped and rationalized towards objective criteria.