Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said that legislation must remain the preserve of the Legislature, problems will resolve if all organs remember their domain. Prasad was speaking at a function in the Supreme Court lawns to celebrate Constitution Day, when he said that courts should pass directives but governance must remain with those elected to govern. “Courts must quash orders of the government but governance
must remain with those elected to govern,” he said.
Recalling the Emergency in India during Indira Gandhi’s tenure, Prasad said, “Let’s not forget during emergency while high courts showed courage, the Supreme Court failed us, a monumental failure.” The law minister also added that there is a high respect across the globe for the Indian Constitution which does not distinguish between rich, big and poor. “People are convinced that they can unseat any political leader, howsoever big, from power. It can also replace any political party,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Prasad disagreed with Chief Justice of India T S Thakur’s claim that 500 judges posts are vacant in the high courts. Rebutting his claims, the minister said the government has made 120 appointments this year which was the second highest since 1990. The highest number of appointments of 121 were made in 2013. “We respectfully disagree with him (CJI). This year we have made 120 appointments. The second highest of 121 is of 2013. Since 1990 there have been only 80 appointments. 5,000 vacancies are there in the lower judiciary in which the government of India has no role to play. That is something only for the judiciary to take care,” added Prasad.
CJI T S Thakur on Saturday took on the Centre for sitting over appointments of High Court judges and asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s attitude was lackadaisical from the very issue of filling vacancies to providing adequate infrastructure. Thakur said that courtrooms are lying vacant without judges. He further said that in principle, the judiciary was not against the formation of Tribunals because it would relieve court duties, but the problem arose from the lack of adequate infrastructure provided to the Tribunals.
“Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there. Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal,” Thakur said.