Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Saturday said that the “political consensus” over the need to broad-base the process of appointment of Supreme Court and High court judges was in place.
“The present process (where judges are appointed by a five-judge collegium) has not been proved to be adequate, and there is a need to re-look and revisit the issue. Political consensus has been built,” Mr. Kumar said at a press conference.
He also said that his ministry was ready with a draft bill for setting up ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission’, which will have legislative representation besides the representatives of the judiciary.
On the issues of marital rape and reducing the age of consensual sex from 18 to 16, the minister said, “There are divergent views, all having considerable weight, and therefore they need to be thoroughly debated.”
Admitting that there were a large number of vacancies in judiciary, Mr. Kumar said this does have adverse impact on the justice delivery system, and his ministry was taking steps to increase the number of judges as well as fast-tracking the appointment process.
The existing strength of judiciary was 18,000, and the process was on to double it, while ten per cent -- about 1,800 -- new judges were already appointed, he said.
182 ‘Gram Nyayalas’ were being set up at the intermediate panchayat level and 152 of them were already in operation.
14,000 subordinate courts were being computerised, he said, adding, all this would deal with the problem of slow pace of justice delivery.
Speaking on the Vodafone tax case, the minister said the government will follow the law, and although it was seeking (foreign) investors, “government will function within the framework of the law”.