Retired judges and prominent advocates, including former Supreme Court judges Justices Aftab Alam and Madan B Lokur, have criticised a five-member expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs to suggest criminal law reforms.
In a letter to members of the committee, at least 14 retired judges and over 50 advocates and academics have demanded more transparency regarding its constitution and functioning.
“As stakeholders in the criminal justice system, we recognize the need to bring the system in compliance with the Constitution, in a manner that ‘prioritises the constitutional values of justice, dignity and the inherent worth of the individual.’ However, we are concerned that the composition of the present Committee lacks diversity both in terms of the social identity of the members, as well as their professional background and experience,” the letter read.
The five-member committee headed by Dr Ranbir Singh, V-C of National Law University, Delhi, was set up on May 5. Apart from Singh, it includes G S Bajpai, Registrar of National Law University, Delhi; Balraj Chauhan, V-C of Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur; senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani and former Delhi district court judge G P Thareja.
In the letter, retired judges and lawyers called upon the committee to set up sub-committees and panels to “redress the lack of diversity and experience in the Committee’s current composition”.
Former Supreme Court judge Justice Gopala Gowda, former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court, Justice A P Shah and Senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover are also among the signatories.