With the Chief Justice of India cautioning against any attempt to tinker with freedom of judiciary, government on Thursday sought to allay apprehensions by underlining that judicial independence was “paramount” and it will not be undermined by a proposed law.
While reassuring the judiciary, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said accountability is not meant to undermine (judicial) independence, “but accountability to enhance independence. Independence remains paramount and we are very clear about it.”
Mr. Khurshid, who was present at the function attended by the CJI on Wednesday, said while the words may be different, there is no divergence of views on independence of judiciary. “I believe it (judiciary) is an important pillar of our Constitution,” he told reporters outside Parliament House.
He was asked to comment on the remarks of the CJI.
Justice Kapadia had said, “The government may make law for making judges accountable. We are not afraid of that. But it should not tinker with the very constitutional principle of judicial independence.”
He was apparently referring to the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill which had already been passed by Lok Sabha and is pending in Rajya Sabha.
Speaking on the occasion of Independence Day celebrations in the Supreme Court, the CJI had urged the government that while bringing law, it should not lose sight of the concept of judicial independence.
A controversial clause in the Bill states: “No judge shall make unwarranted comments against the conduct of any constitutional or statutory institution or officials at the time of hearing matters in open courts during the course of hearing matters.”
Mr. Khurshid has already said he would go back to the Cabinet to remove the clause. “If we are doing something good, we should not lose its sheen by even a marginal controversial provision,” he had said earlier this month.