Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily on Wednesday underlined the need for revisiting the procedure for appointment of judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
Talking to journalists here, he said: “There is a memorandum of procedure for appointment of judges, which we are going by as of today. I am not reiterating that the same thing will continue. Maybe, we have to revisit the procedure. Whatever we do, we need to take the judiciary into full confidence.”
Mr. Moily refused to be drawn into the controversy relating to Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court P.D. Dinakaran, whose elevation to the Supreme Court has been put on hold. He, however, said: “The government would not like to see that any tainted person becomes a judge.”
Asked whether the government was planning to make changes in the procedure for appointment of judges, he said the Supreme Court’s 1993 and 1998 decisions resulted in the Memorandum of Procedure. “There have been demands from political parties that appointment of judges revert to the government. Independence of judiciary without accountability has no meaning, no significance, and there is a need to resurrect its credibility,” he said.
As part of the road map for judicial reforms, the government was planning to place three Bills before the Cabinet in a day or two. They are: a comprehensive Judges’ Standards and Accountability Bill that would replace the outdated Judges’ Inquiry Act, 1968, another which would ensure uniformity in pay and service conditions of all heads of tribunals and the third to facilitate the creation of high-value commercial courts in all 21 High Courts.
Mr. Moily said, “There is need to resurrect the credibility of the judiciary. Independence without accountability is nothing. At present, there is no statute to back the judges’ code of conduct. All these things will be addressed in the new comprehensive Standards and Accountability Bill.”
In the first stage, the government would reduce the arrears. In the second stage, it would bring in law to check government litigation. Finally, it would try to revamp the process of appointment of judges.
Mr. Moily said: “A government litigation policy is being formulated. It would involve compiling statistics and details about the number of cases being filed by every government department. We will analyse the data and take steps to ensure that the curse of being the single largest litigant is thinned down.”
Pointing out that arrears were increasing, he said: “The constantly increasing number of cases leads to delay in delivery of justice and denial of justice. At present, it takes up to 15 years to dispose of a case. We propose to bring it down to three years.”
A national judicial arrears grid would be drawn up in the first step towards tackling the problem.