Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday admitted that people’s eating habits cannot be controlled but it must be remembered that cows were revered by a vast majority in India. “We should not forget that a very large section of people respects and reveres cows… We can’t control the food habits of people. There has to be a balance,” Ravi Shankar Prasad told the media here.
The Minister referred to Article 48 of the Constitution which says: “The State shall… take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”
On Tuesday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre will not impose any restrictions on people’s choice of food. His statement came a day after a beef party was held in Aizawl to coincide with his visit to the north-eastern state. As for a controversial notification that effectively bans the sale of cattle at cattle markets for slaughter, Ravi Shankar Prasad said Union Environment and Forest Minister Harsh Vardhan had already said that the Centre was ready for its review.
He said the “achievements” of the departments under his ministry in the past three years were far better than during the earlier United Progressive Alliance government “in terms of scale, speed and work culture”.
Referring to the huge pendency of cases, the Minister said he will write to Chief Justices of High Courts across the country to expedite disposal of cases — both civil and criminal — pending for 10 years or more.
He said he will seek to “ensure physical verification of the pending cases so as to ascertain the real pendency”. He said it had been found that matters in which orders on applications had been passed were still being counted as pending.
On the finalisation of Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts, the Minister said: “Work is in progress. On several issues there were discussions and consensus has been arrived at”.
Refusing to identify the issues that still need to be resolved before the MoP was finalised, Ravi Shankar Prasad said matters between the government and the top judiciary cannot be divulged to the media.
He said non-finalisation of the MoP was in no way impacting judicial appointments and referred to the record 131 appointments of judges made to various High Courts in 2016.
The Minister refused to comment on Calcutta High Court Justice C.S. Karnan, who retired on June 12, saying he won’t comment on individual matters.
The entire affair pointed to the need for “greater scrutiny and screening” while making judicial appointments, he said.
Asked if there should be more representation for Dalits and tribals and other weaker sections in higher judiciary, the Minister said: “There are very bright lawyers from the marginalised communities. They need to be given a chance.”