ET takes a look at areas which may require redress from the law ministry and Rijiju’s skirmishes with the judiciary:
Appointment of Judges
Even eight years after SC asked the government to come up with a revised memorandum of procedure (MoP) for selection of judges to the higher judiciary, the Centre and SC are yet to find a middle ground. The law ministry has a pivotal role in ironing out differences with the judiciary to formulate MoP. It was in December 2015 that SC struck down the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act passed by Parliament for appointing judges.
Delay in Appointments
SC collegium and the Centre was recently at loggerheads over delay in appointment of HC judges. A resolution passed by the collegium headed by CJI DY Chandrachud in March expressed disapproval of Centre withholding names recommended for elevation as judges.
“Names which have been recommended earlier in point of time including the reiterated names ought not to be withheld or overlooked as this disturbs their seniority whereas those recommended later steal march on them. Loss of seniority of candidates recommended earlier in point of time has been noted by the collegium and is a matter of grave concern,” the collegium resolution said. On the judicial side too, SC rapped the Centre for dragging its feet on appointment of judges.Judicial Exam; Litigation Policy
The All India Judicial Service to centrally recruit judges is “in formation”. It will be on lines of civil services. Some high courts had opposed the scheme while others called for tweak. The National Litigation Policy was launched in 2010 to avoid government, the biggest litigant, from involving itself in frivolous appeal against every verdict. The policy also aims to reduce average pendency of a case. It will have to identify bottlenecks in the legal system and redress it across ministries.
On January 6, Rijiju in a letter to the CJI sought forming of a committee, where the Centre will also have a say, to shortlist judges to the higher judiciary. The Centre is an “important stakeholder” in the process of appointment of SC and HC judges and its views should find a place in the preparation of the panel of people eligible to be appointed judges, Rijiju’s letter said.
Issues Over IB/RAW Reports
In January, SC collegium for the first time made public its response to IB and RAW reasons for opposing candidates for judgeship. Rijiju questioned the response. He said ‘sensitive’ opinions of intelligence agencies in the public domain was a “matter of grave concern”.
In January, Rijiju said in a tweet that while judiciary was independent, the Constitution was supreme. He tagged a digital interview of a retired HC judge who asserted ‘supremacy of Parliament’. “People rule themselves through their representatives. Elected representatives represent interests of the people and make laws. Our judiciary is independent, and our Constitution is supreme,” Rijiju tweeted. At a media event in March, Rijiju alleged a few retired judges were part of an ‘anti-India gang’, forcing the judiciary to play the role of Opposition party.