‘Appointments to higher judiciary must be through transparent processes’

Legal processes and procedures should not be an impediment to economic growth, but must fuel it, said Union Minister of Telecom Kapil Sibal on Monday soon after assuming the additional charge of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

In an interaction with journalists after taking charge, he said, “The rule of law is the foundation of civil society. The guilty must not go unpunished and the innocent must not be harassed. The processes of law must be quick and non-discriminatory. We need to strengthen confidence of the people in our judicial system.”

He said, “Appointments to higher judiciary must be through transparent processes which ensure that persons of impeccable integrity and high competence are appointed.”

Asked whether the present ‘collegium system of appointments to higher judiciary’ would be revisited, he said “the present appointment system is opaque and non-transparent, but we cannot change the system overnight.” While emphasising the need for structural judicial reforms, he said these could be brought about by institutional dialogue and understanding with the judiciary. “There are certain Bills pending in Parliament which can be passed with the cooperation of the Opposition parties. If not, we will have to wait for the consensus to emerge.”

On measures to reduce the pendency of cases in courts, he said three crore cases could not be wiped out overnight. The present judges’ strength of 12 or 13 per one million population was much less compared to the global average of 50 judges per millions. “We need to increase the strength of judges with the cooperation of the States. It is a long-term process,” he said.

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