Amid a continuing tussle with the higher judiciary over the revised Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointments to the higher judiciary, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Tuesday the government does not intend to have a veto over the judiciary. He said the government sent a fresh response to the Chief Justice of India last week.
Prasad was noncommittal on bringing a fresh law on the appointment of judges in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act despite several MPs demanding it during a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha on the “impasse in the appointment of judges in the high court and the supreme court.” He said the government has accepted the judgment despite reservations.
He said the government is often asked if it will bring another law. “Regardless of our reservations, lots of questions were asked: ‘Are you willing to come again with this law?’ The polity will have to take a call. I cannot make any commitment today,” he said.
The Congress’s Vivek Tankha said there was a complete impasse over appointment of judges in the last one-and-a-half years. Referring to the tussle over drafting of the MoP, he said, “It is because of some conditions that the government is putting”, and argued, “You cannot have a veto power over the Supreme Court judgment.”
Prasad said: “I want to make it very clear with the full authority of the government and the Prime Minister that we don’t wish to have any veto on the judiciary. The right to reframe the MoP has been given by the Supreme Court to us. It is not a job which we are taking suo motu.”
Satish Mishra (BSP) asked how many higher court judges are from scheduled castes. D Raja (CPI) said the judiciary has “class-bias and caste-bias”. Prasad concurred and said the first letter he had written after taking over as law minister in 2014 was to the high court collegium stressing a need for greater representation to SC/ST, OBC, minorities and women.