Accountability Bill won’t cut into judicial independence, says Ashwani Kumar

Endeavour will continue to forge broadest possible consensus on credible Lokpal Bill

November 01, 2012 02:08 am | Updated October 18, 2016 12:56 pm IST - New Delhi:

Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar. File Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar. File Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar

The new Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Tuesday said the government was fully committed to preserving the independence of the judiciary.

Speaking to journalists after meeting Supreme Court Bar Association president P.H. Parekh and other office-bearers here, the Minister sought to dispel the impression that the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill would interfere with judicial independence.

On the contentious requirements in the Bill that judges should not make oral observations, Mr. Kumar said he was yet to go through the provisions.

“All organs of the state have to work within the parameters of the Constitution and should not work at cross purposes. It will be my endeavour to promote and facilitate a constructive, congenial, communicative and harmonious relationship between the political executive and the judiciary. In the past, we witnessed constructive judicial activism in aid of furtherance of our constitutional goal,” he said. The extraordinary challenge facing the country could be properly addressed only by the three organs of the state working together within the framework of the Constitution.

On judicial reforms, Mr. Kumar said: “Efforts will be made to ensure that judicial vacancies are filled up as early as possible. Our commitment to the rule of law is to strengthen further the physical and human infrastructure for the judiciary and to promote efficacy in the process of dispensation of justice. There will be no intention directly or indirectly to dilute the independence of the judiciary.”

Would the government revisit the collegium system of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary? “First of all, we have to take a call [on] whether there could be an improvement in the present system and then we have to think of a mechanism.” There was a proposal to set up a National Judicial Commission, which would address all issues of judges appointment, he said.

Asked about corruption in the higher judiciary, Mr. Kumar said: “Wherever judicial aberration has been proved, a corrective ‘in-house mechanism’ would be one way to deal with it.” He said the UPA government was committed to a strong and credible Lokpal Bill. “We will continue to endeavour to forge the broadest possible political consensus in favour of a credible and effective Lokpal Bill which, along with the other bills which form part of a bouquet of legislation, will enable us to check corruption.”

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