Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said any pendency in appointments cannot be laid at the door of the government because the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges had been sent to the judiciary. Responding to a query on interference in election of judges at the first edition of English daily, The Hindu’s thought conclave ‘The Huddle’, Prasad said it was a misconception as BJP members went to jail for the freedom of the judiciary.
“Please remove this misconception, we (our party) went to jail for the freedom of the judiciary. However, the Supreme Court itself has said the existing system of appointment of judges needs improvement. We are working in that context. Judges of the 50s, 60s were excellent,” he said. He also said the allusion that the Prime Minister can be instrumental in the election of the President, the Vice President, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General but not judges, has to be challenged.
Prasad said before the existence of collegium system, India had produced judges of caliber like Justices Krishna Iyer, Hidayatullah, Gajendra Gadkar and Patanjali Shastri. “Can those advocating the collegium system as superior come up with appointments of that caliber?” he asked. On former CJI T S Thakur’s reported statements on slow rate of appointment of judges, Prasad said, “Since 1993, the collegium system has cleared 75-80 appointments, we have in the last year cleared a 120. The then Chief Justice should not have spoken in public, since the CJI and law minister speak nearly every fortnight and things can be discussed privately.”
Responding to a question on why Lokpal has not been constituted, Prasad said the constitution of Lokpal would be delayed as certain amendments are under process. On Uttar Pradesh elections, Prasad said: “How many referendum does Modi have to win? We have won municipal elections, State elections since coming to power.UP is heading for a change, and we trust that the results are going to be different,” he said.