NEW DELHI: Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday hinted that the Narendra Modi government will rework on a constitutional amendment bill introduced by the previous dispensation which seeks to give the executive a say in appointment of judges.
"We want to bring the National Judicial Commission in which both the judiciary and the executive will be present but the judiciary will have an upper hand. We will bring the bill in an objective manner. The previous government had brought bill but there were infirmities in it," he said.
He said several eminent jurists, including late Justice J S Verma, had questioned the working of the present collegium system.
"Our party (BJP) had promised to bring the National Judicial Commission in the election manifesto," Prasad told Rajat Sharma in 'AAp ki Adalat' to be telecast on India TV.
Asked whether the NDA government was seeking to exercise control over the judiciary, Prasad said the government wants the judiciary to be independent.
His remarks came in the backdrop of the controversy over Gopal Subramanium.
The government's decision to return to the Supreme Court collegium its recommendation to appoint Former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium as a judge of the apex court had created controversy with many in the political and judicial circle criticising the move. Subramanium later withdrew his candidature for appointment as an SC judge saying he was let down by the government due to lack of support. Chief Justice of India R M Lodha had later expressed displeasure at the government's handling of the case and questioned the segregation by terming it as a unilateral move of the executive. The government, however, defended its decision, saying its move was based on "proper, cogent and sound" grounds.
Prasad reiterated his stand that the government has the right to give its opinion in judicial appointments. "If we give five, or say, three names, and we object to one of them, there will be segregation. We have the right to request a review," he said.
He said the NDA government is planning to bring a National Litigation Policy pending for years.
"There are three crore cases pending in India...2.68 crore are pending in lower courts. Of them, cheque-bouncing cases number nearly 22 lakh...these can be easily disposed of in Lok Adalats," Prasad said.
Memorandum of Procedure: As per the Memorandum of Procedure governing the appointment of apex court judges, the government can return the file to the judiciary for reconsideration. But when the collegium reiterates its recommendation, the government has to accept it. But there is no timeline for the government to take a decision.
Bring Transparency in Appointment of Judges (Editorial)