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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: M.R. Hariharan Nair, former Judge of the High Court of Kerala, has said his three-year stint as the Ombudsman for Local Self-Government Institutions in the State has given him more personal satisfaction than his tenure as a judge of the High Court.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the last day of his three-year term as the Ombudsman, Mr. Hariharan Nair said there was indeed a great deal of difference in the way the two systems functioned.
“The role of a judge ended with the pronouncement of the verdict. The judge does not get to know whether the verdict is implemented or not. Often the verdict will remain as a verdict. It may sometimes be not implemented at all. Even if it is obeyed and implemented, its relevance in many instances is totally lost because of the long wait for carrying out of justice. The Ombudsman's case is not like that. Hearing in a case will end only after the execution of the verdict. In most of the cases, the implementation of the order will happen on the very next date of hearing after the verdict is pronounced,” he said.
Mr. Hariharan Nair said Kerala was the only State in the country having the ombudsman system for local self-government institutions. High cost of litigation and long wait involved in the carrying out of justice were among the weaknesses usually attributed to the judicial system.
These weaknesses could not be seen in the case of the ombudsman's functioning. The simplicity of procedures actually made this a “dream system”.
Many poor people who had approached the ombudsman during the last three years seeking assistance due to them from the local bodies for building houses, digging wells, buying milch cows, or marrying off their daughters had shed tears of gratitude in the courtroom on the final day of the hearing of their cases.
Mr. Hariharan said they would not have ever thought of fighting for justice were it not for the reality that they could approach the ombudsman and receive justice spending just Rs.10 on a stamp that had to be affixed on the petition.
Only if the complainant felt it necessary (and the ombudsman permitted it) was it necessary to hire a lawyer. The local bodies did not have permission to hire a lawyer. The officials involved themselves would have to appear before the ombudsman to defend themselves.
“It is indeed difficult to convey the depth of fulfilment one gets when one becomes the vehicle for reaching justice to these poor people…No judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court can hope to have such a blissful experience,” he said.
Minister for Local Administration Paloli Mohammed Kutty and top officials of his department attended a meeting organised here on Wednesday to bid farewell to the ombudsman.
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