The Union Cabinet has referred the Judges Standards and Accountability Bill to the Group of Ministers for further discussion. It will not be tabled in the ongoing Parliament session but in the next session, Union Minister for Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily said on Sunday.

Shortly after participating in the ‘bhoomi pooja' for construction of court buildings – phase II at the Puducherry court complex, he said: “The Bill was to ensure that no single lawyer with tainted character and flaws can become a judge of High Court or the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.”

A nationwide consultation has been opened for amending the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. “This is now available on the website of the Law Ministry. We have released the papers for consultation from all over the country,” he told reporters during the sidelines of the programme.

Amending the Act, according to him, would ensure India becoming the most preferred destination for international arbitration.

Asked about Justice P.D. Dinakaran, Mr. Moily stated that “enquiry was on for impeachment” and said he cannot comment any further on the issue. Stressing capacity building in all segments, including having women judges, the Union Minister said a national database of competent lawyers starting from the subordinate courts to the Supreme Court was being compiled.

To a demand for a permanent Bench of High Court for Puducherry, he said it depended on merit as similar demands were being made from other places in the country.

“We do not want to pick and choose. So, we have constituted a committee with a former Chief Justice of India to look into the demand for circuit benches and permanent benches,” he said.

Mr. Moily referred to the formulation of a vision document and blueprint for the National Legal Mission. An arrears grid is being created, besides a National Litigation Policy and special purpose vehicle to provide necessary infrastructure starting from the Supreme Court to the last court.

Increase in working days

Only the Madras High Court and Kerala High Court had increased the working time by half an hour, a change suggested during the conference of Chief Justices, he said.

“The official working days are 210 days. With an increase by half an hour everyday, the two High Courts are working for a total of 231 days,” he added. He called all High Courts to emulate this example.

Gram nyayalayas will be established in 5,000 places, he said, adding that the 13th Finance Commission had allocated Rs.5,000 crore for the next five years for improving the justice delivery system.

Appealing to lawyers not to boycott courts, Chief Justice of Madras High Court H.L. Gokhale expressed concern at the lack of cooperation from lawyers in district courts, even as the situation at the Madras High Court was controlled.

At the High Court level, pendency of cases was brought down by nearly 20,000. It could have come down by 30,000 to 35,000 but the cases went up in districts like Madurai owing to lack of co-operation, he said.

“I will like to ask lawyers in Puducherry that whatever the issue may be, is a dialogue not possible? Meet the district judge, portfolio judge or the Chief Justice. Lawyers are not supposed to throw papers or tantrums in court, which is happening in a few courts,” he said.

Among others, Union Minister of State for Planning, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture V. Narayanasamy; Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam; Judge of Madras High Court and Portfolio Judge for Puducherry Prabha Sridevan; Judges of Madras High Court S. Palanivelu and K.K. Sasidharan; and Chief Judge, Puducherry, D. Krishnaraja were present.