So that the Executive will have more say in the appointments
The Centre is contemplating certain changes in the Memorandum of Procedure of appointment of Judges under, which the Executive will have more say, according to the Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu here on Thursday, Mr. Moily speaking on a wide range of issues said, at present the system of appointment of Judges was governed by the Supreme Court 1993 and 1998 judgments and the Memorandum of Procedure, viz. the collegium system of appointment, was evolved subsequent to the 1998 judgment.
He said the government after obtaining the opinion of the Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati on the two judgments had proposed certain changes in the procedure so that the Executive would have more say in the appointments even at the stage of selection of judges to weed out tainted persons from being appointed. He said the proposal was sent to the former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan for his consideration. However, Justice Balakrishnan had left it to the present CJI S.H. Kapadia for his consideration and “we are awaiting his decision in this regard.” He pointed out that there were about 280 vacancies of posts of judges in the High courts and the government wanted to take the judiciary into confidence before any major step was contemplated.
Asked what would be the government's response if the CJI did not accept the changes in the Memorandum of Procedure, he said, “we will have to go in for Constitution amendment to bring in necessary changes. I don't think such a step is required at this stage. We are confident that the judiciary will accept these changes as they are in conformity with the two Supreme Court judgments.”
On the Judicial Accountability Bill, he said, the Group of Ministers had cleared the Bill and it would be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament. It was expected to be placed before the Cabinet shortly, he said. Under the Bill there was a move to appoint an Oversight Committee to go into complaints against judges. The committee was empowered to recommend minor and major punishments like asking the judge concerned to go on leave or not to assign any work to him, giving him a warning or censure besides the removal procedure.
Asked whether the government was in favour of setting up of Supreme Court Benches, he said, the government was not in favour of regional Benches. But as in the United Kingdom, he said, “we are contemplating courts of appeal in various regions to restrict the appeals in criminal and civil cases so that the Supreme Court can concentrate on constitutional matters.”
On the move to increase the retirement age of High Court judges from 62 years to 65 years, he said, the government was considering the proposal to make the retirement age of High Court judges on par with Supreme Court judges. But he said there was no proposal to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 68 years. He, however, said that no final decision had been taken in the matter.