Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the Constitution does not provide for reservations on the basis of caste, class or gender when it comes to appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. He said this while replying to a demand made by DMK MP P. Wilson to ensure social justice and diversity in the appointments.
The MP had, on September 17, made a request to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu, seeking permission to make a special mention in the House on September 19 regarding a matter of urgent public importance. He had issued a notice to the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha along with a text of the matter to be mentioned.
The notice referred to certain “disturbing trends” in the composition of the Supreme Court and claimed that for the past few years, there had been a decline in representation from all sections of society in the apex court. “There is a diversity deficit in our Supreme Court and is not indicative of the wonderfully diverse and pluralistic society of India.
“Judicial diversity is fundamental to the quality of judging. Many social groups are poorly represented in the apex court. There is lack of women judges and judges from historically oppressed and marginalised sections of society... This may mean their rights are not being properly safeguarded and may eventually lead to violation of such rights,” the MP said.
He also stated that the people of the country were “afraid that a very narrow and homogenous group of judges belonging to certain classes were not necessarily going to reflect the views and values of society as a whole... as the judges would interpret and enforce law based on their own background”.
The MP insisted that the Parliament must step in to ensure social justice and diversity in appointments to the highest court in the country. In a reply dated October 10, the Law Minister had told the MP that the Supreme Court judges were appointed under Article 124 of the Constitution which does not provide for any reservation.
He further said that out of the sanctioned strength of 34 judges, the Supreme Court, now, had a working strength of 30, including two women, three from minority communities and one from a Scheduled Caste.
Mr. Prasad also stated that the Supreme Court judges were being appointed predominantly from among the Chief Justices and judges of the various High Courts. Hence, the Centre had been impressing upon the need to give due consideration to suitable candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women while making appointments to the High Courts.