Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda is all set to initiate consultations with chief ministers and top judges on the naming of members to the higher judiciary months after the Supreme Court struck down a new law on appointment of judges to the apex court and high courts.
“Frankly, this memorandum of procedure (MoP) is the top- most priority of the Law Ministry in 2016. As the Supreme Court has left it to the ministry to draft the MoP in consultation with CMs and chief justices of the (24) high courts, I want the document ready in consultation with the Chief Justice of India,” Gowda said listing the top priorities of his ministry in the new year.
He said “it should only be done after due consultation” with the CJI as due “care” must be taken while drafting the document.
According to him, while the central government has no role in filling up huge vacancies in the judiciary, he wants the judiciary to address the issue at the earliest.
While collegium has the primary responsibility to fill up vacancies in high courts and the Supreme Court, he said the Centre will encourage states and respective high courts to fill up vacant posts in subordinate judiciary.
Responding to a question on the Supreme Court striking down a new law to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts, he said the draft MoP “will be our prayer to the apex court” to include certain issues to improve the system of judges’ appointment.
As of now, there are two MOPs — one dealing with appointment of CJI and other judges of the Supreme Court and the other dealing with appointment of chief justices and other judges of high courts. The MoP is roadmap of procedure on how a judge will be appointed.
“My second priority will be to get the approval of the Union Cabinet for the new litigation policy so that the pendency in courts is reduced,” he told PTI.
The litigation policy aims to reduce litigations where government is a party. With government perceived as the biggest litigant, the policy aims to check the trend of central ministries and departments approaching courts to settle issues.
While there are no official figures, government is believed to be a party in 46 per cent of the pending cases in courts across India. “We are the biggest decision makers in the country, hence we are party to maximum number of cases,” a top Law Ministry official explained.
The former UPA government had brought out a national litigation policy in 2010 but it had failed to take off. After the NDA government came to power in 2014, the policy draft was revised. But despite rewritings, the Law Ministry has far failed to get the approval of the Union Cabinet.
The Uniform Civil Code is another issue which will keep the Law Ministry in headlines in 2016. .
( Source – PTI )