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India keen to set up National Judicial Commission: Minister

Jul 23, 2014

This announcement comes in response to protests in the Parliament demanding an inquiry into the controversial appointment of a high court judge under the previous UPA govt.

New Delhi: The Indian Government on Tuesday said the ‘clock can't be put back’ in the alleged appointment of a judge to the Madras High Court ten years ago, but stressed that there is an urgent need to improve the system for appointment of judges and that it was keen to set up a National Judicial Commission at the earliest to prevent such cases.

Responding to members who expressed concern in the Lok Sabha over the disclosure by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju that three former Chief Justices of India (CJIs) -- R C Lahoti, Y K Sabharwal and K G Balakrishnan -- had made "improper compromises" in allowing the judge to continue, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the house that the judge in question was no more.

Prasad’s announcement came in response to noisy protests by AIADMK members in the Lok Sabha demanding an inquiry into the controversial appointment of a high court judge under the previous UPA government.

Citing former law minister HR Bhardwaj's interview to a news channel, AIADMK member M Thambidurai said DMK ministers and MPs had clearly interfered with judicial appointments.

Prasad said he had taken note of the concerns raised by the member and "the imperative need to improve the system of appointment of judges. Therefore, our government... is quite keen to ensure that the National Judicial Commission system is appointed".

Prasad said in 2003, the collegium had certain reservations and had made some enquiries and decided that the case of this judge should not be taken up.

But later during the UPA rule, a clarification was sought by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as to why he should not be recommended, the minister said in the Lok Sabha.

The collegium again said he should not have been recommended at all, he said. Later, the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry wrote a note to the collegium following which it said that his case can be considered for some extension, Prasad said, adding the matter stood there thereafter.

"...on July 16, 2005 to be precise, again a note went from the then Department of Justice with the approval of the then Law Minister indicating about certain sensitivity. Thereafter, a call was taken by the collegium that his case can be considered for some extension and he was made permanent," he said.

The Law Minister said the judge has since retired and was no more now. The judges of the collegium have also retired.

Quoting Supreme Court's observation in Shanti Bhushan case, he remarked the "clock cannot be put back".

The concern raised by the AIADMK members was well appreciated and there is imperative need to improve the system of judges appointment, Prasad said, adding the government was quite keen to appoint a National Judicial Commission for making such appointments.

SOURCE: DD News

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