August 18, 2011
By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – Twenty-five years after experts suggested an All India Judicial Service to draw the best talent to judiciary, the United Progressive Alliance government is seized of the matter, Parliament was informed today.
The government is seized of the matter of creation of an All India Judicial Service under Article 312 of the Constitution, Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
He was answering Bharatiya Janata Party member from Rajasthan Arjun Ram Meghwal and Indian National Congress member from Haryana Shruti Choudhry who drew attention to a Law Commission recommendation made in 1986.
The two Members wanted to know whether the government intends to introduce the said Service, the timeframe set for its introduction, and, if not, the reasons therefor.
In his reply, Khurshid acknowledged the Commission findings that such a service would also serve as a powerful unifying influence and counteract growing regional tendencies.
He said the process of creating it requires a Resolution to be passed by the Rajya Sabha enabling Parliament to enact necessary laws.
He did not say when that and any subsequent requirements might be carried out.
In reply to another question, Khurshid said the government has examined various options — including National Judicial Commission– to address the issues concerning appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
However, no specific proposal has been finalised, the Minister said.
Over the past many years, selection for appointment of Supreme Court and High Court Judges has been made by a Judges collegium but questions have arisen owing to complaints over conduct and persistent vacancies.
The Rajya Sabha, for instance, took an unprecedented step this afternoon to approve an impeachment motion against Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen who is accused of having misappropriated funds while he was a lawyer before his elevation.
The motion will next be considered in the Lok Sabha, and, if approved, go to the President, the appointing authority, for the Judge’s removal from office.
The last Parliament was close to impeaching a Judge was in the 1990s when it considered corruption allegations against former Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice V Ramaswami defended by then senior advocate Kapil Sibal.
The move in the Lok Sabha fell through then with Indian National Congress members abstaining, an instance cited ever since by critics as proof that impeachment was not a sound way to ensure accountability.
Khurshid was answering Meghwal and Communist Party of India (Marxist) member from Kerala M B Rajesh and INC member from Lakshadweep Hamdullah Sayeed on steps to improve judical service quality and standards.
The Members asked if the government proposed to introduce a constitutional code of conduct for Judges and a mechanism for periodical assessment of Judges performance.
Khurshid said the UPA government introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha in December 2010 to ensure accountability and transparency in the higher judiciary.
The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 incorporates a mechanism for enquiring into complaints against Supreme Court and High Court Judges and makes way for Judges to declare their assets and liabilities, besides setting standards for them to follow, he said.
The Minister gave no timeframe as to its enactment.
UNI MJ GH 0032
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