There is no proposal under consideration to amend the Constitution to enable reservation in higher judiciary, the government said Thursday, but agreed the issue will need to be looked into at some point.
“The government has requested the chief justices of high courts that while sending proposals for appointment of judges, due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to OBCs, SCs, STs, minorities and women,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in the Lok Sabha in response to a question by Santokh Singh Chaudhary of the Congress. He said though suggestions had been received for enabling reservation, “there is no proposal under consideration to amend the Constitution”. But he added: “Kabhi vichar karna padega (it has to be thought about at some point).”
He pointed out that appointments of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution and do not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons.
Anurag Thakur of the BJP emphasised the need for “transparency and accountability” in the judiciary, and sought to know if livestreaming of court proceedings will be announced. Prasad said the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill had been unanimously passed by Parliament but was quashed by the Supreme Court. “The situation is the same. We will try to take it forward again,” Prasad said. Responding to a query, the minister said there were around 4,400 vacancies of the 20,000 sanctioned posts in the subordinate judiciary.
Nagendra Kumar Pradhan of the BJD said: “The House is the supreme organisation. Here, more than 100 members represent Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs. So, the matter [of reservation] should be discussed here.”
Fish ladders for hilsa near Farakka barrage
The government plans fish ladders in the Ganga near the Farakka barrage in Bengal to help hilsa travel upstream, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said in the Lok Sabha during question hour. Hilsa availability has gone down because the freshwater fish cannot breed when seawater across the Farakka Barrage mixes with the river. Bharti was hopeful that the fish will become available even in the Chambal region of MP and UP as before.