BJP for National Judicial Commission for Judges’ appointment

The TV grab shows the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley speaks in the House in New Delhi on Thursday.  

Expressing concern over questions being raised on conduct of some judges, BJP on Thursday suggested revisiting the process of their appointment and favoured a National Judicial Commission to ensure selection of those with strong integrity.

“The system of judges alone appointing judges must now change. India needs a National Judicial Commission to appoint judges,” the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said. He resumed the debate in the Rajya Sabha on impeachment motions against Calcutta High Court Judge Justice Soumitra Sen.

He said the commission’s members can be drawn from the judiciary and executive, besides prominent citizens. At present judges are appointed by a collegium of judges.

Expressing anguish over the “increased trend” of the executive giving jobs to judges post-retirement, he said, “There is a possibility of retirement-eve judgements getting influenced in search of post-retirement jobs...this is a serious threat to judicial independence.”

The Constitution provides for separation of power of the executive, legislature and judiciary, he said.

“While there is no crossing of ‘Lakshman rekha’ by the executive and legislature, there is serious sidestepping from judiciary,” Mr. Jaitley, himself an eminent lawyer and former Law Minister, said.

Recently there were cases where courts gave comments on how to tackle Maoism, fight insurgency and what should be the land acquisition policy. They also commented on release of a Pakistani prisoner.

The courts cannot decide on these issues as they are supposed to be dealt by the government, which alone would decide whether to exchange an Indian prisoner for the Pakistani prisoner with us, he said.

On the impeachment motions, Mr. Jaitley said Justice Sen had presented “serious falsehood” about the facts of his case in the House on Wednesday.

He said it was a “fit case” for removal of the judge and the House should recommend to the President in this regard.

The senior BJP leader said that before appointment of a judge, details of his record as a lawyer, judgements written by him and how many of them been set aside should be taken into account.

When Mr. Jaitley was speaking, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present in the House and members of both Treasury and opposition benches applauded his forceful presentation.

Mr. Jaitley said Justice Sen “misled” the House about his case by hiding the “truths“.

Inquiries by committees set up by the Chief Justice of India and the Rajya Sabha Chairman have brought to the light the fact that there were series of withdrawals from the bank accounts through cheques and cash by Justice Sen both as a lawyer and as a Judge.

“Cheques cannot lie but individuals can,” he said, showing xerox copies of the cheques given by the bank.

On Justice Sen’s argument on Wednesday that he would scream from the rooftop that he had not misappropriated the funds, Jaitley said all the withdrawals made by him would “continue to hang around his neck as albatross” even if he does so.

E M Sudarsana Natchiappan (Cong) supported the motions saying he “felt sorry” the way in which the serving judge was attacking the judiciary as such words were never even used in Parliament.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 8:40:20 PM |

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