Admitting that there are differences between the judiciary and the executive over the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad underlined the importance of “moral authority” of the judiciary.
Speaking at Idea Exchange, an interaction with The Indian Express newsroom, Prasad said: “What is the real authority of a judge? He can give judgments. I think the real authority of a judge is moral authority. And moral authority flows from probity, propriety and integrity. And, therefore, I am very proud of India’s judiciary. If a retired Additional district judge, who has given capital punishment of hanging to a notorious (member of the) mafia, is going to purchase vegetables with his wife after retirement and mafia supporters don’t do anything against them. That is the role and impact the judiciary has. It is in your interest, in a democratic country, that this element (moral authority) remains intact.”
“Does being a High Court judge, serving or retired, give you a licence to be corrupt? That question would have to be answered at some point in time,” Prasad said in response to queries regarding arrest of a retired High Court Judge in connection with a corruption case pertaining to litigation regarding medical college.
The Union Law Minister, in this context, claimed that the government wasn’t unyielding on the issue of finalisation of Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges of higher judiciary. He said that the MoP was “work in progress”.
“In August 2014, the National Judicial Commission Act was passed. It was challenged. In December 2015, the final order came that the government must recast the MoP in consultation with the judiciary. I would not like to divulge what happened thereafter. But there have been cases where there has been no movement from that side also. Because the judgment was that the MoP shall be framed by the Chief Justice of India in consultation with and with the unanimous view of the collegium. Unless it has come from there, I could not have taken any action. And ,thereafter, we have taken certain views and then the matter has gone there. Beyond that, I don’t think I need to talk about it. Because it’s work in progress,” the Law Minister said.
The Supreme Court’s decision to make public the resolutions of elevation and transfer of judges in the higher judiciary appeared an attempt to suggest the higher judiciary’s effort to move forward on this issue.