Legal Correspondent

Out of 610 HC judges, hardly 20 belong to

SCs and STs

“Downtrodden communities kept out by

a shrewd act of manipulation”

NEW DELHI: The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law Ministry has recommended reservation for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in judicial appointments.

In its 21st report on the Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006, tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Friday, the committee, under the chairmanship of Congress MP E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, said that like all other institutions, judiciary should also be covered by the principle of reservation.

The committee said: “Such a coveted institution [judiciary] should also exhibit the reality of the social milieu in which it has been created. It cannot live in isolation in ivory tower and remain outside the ambit of constitutional provisions. The Constitution provides for reservation to socially and educationally backward citizens in all institutions of State, such as legislature and executive through Articles 15 (4), 16, 38, 46, 340 and 93rd Constitutional Amendment.”

It said: “Accordingly, a percentage of seats are reserved for socially and educationally backward sections in Parliament, Legislative Assemblies, local bodies, Central and State Civil Services, including IAS and IPS, public sector units, Central and State governmental departments and in all public and private educational institutions, except in minority and religious educational institutions.”

Quoting from the report of the national commission to review the working of the Constitution, the panel said: “Out of 610 judges in various High Courts [at the relevant time], there are hardly about 20 judges belonging to the SCs and STs.”

“It is true that judges are appointed in accordance with the provisions of Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution. These Articles do not make any specific provision for reservation for any caste or class of persons.”

It said, “Through a shrewd process of manipulation, the Indian judiciary has been keeping the competent persons of the downtrodden communities from the purview of appointment of Judges.”

‘Make it inclusive’

The panel noted that judiciary was manned and operated by judges and other judicial officers.

“When Executive and Legislature are brought under the ambit of constitutional reservation, it is but natural that judiciary, the third pillar of democracy, should also be covered by the principle of reservation. Otherwise, it creates a dubious distinction among the three pillars of democracy. They [SCs/STs/OBCs] need to be given equal opportunity in all walks of life for participation in every sphere. Judiciary cannot be an exception.

“The reservation principle should be inclusive of judiciary. This alone can bring constitutional balance between the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. Then only the real cause of social justice can be served.”

Tremendous impact

“The appointment of judges from all strata of society will have a tremendous impact on the social fabric of judiciary itself. After all, judiciary has to reflect the aspirations of the people,” the committee said and wanted the Government to consider this issue earnestly.

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