NEW DELHI: Parliament was rocked for the second day on Tuesday over Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju’s allegations of corruption in the judiciary, with the AIADMK accusing DMK ministers and MPs of pressuring the previous regime to confirm the appointment of a judge who was under the scanner for alleged corruption charges.
Giving in to the demand of AIADMK members, the Modi government, in a suo moto statement, informed that the incident did take place. However, proceedings of the Lok Sabha were disrupted after the AIADMK members demanded action against the DMK ministers who had pressurised the previous government.
In his statement, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the collegium in 2003 had reservations about the judge in question and they had sought certain enquiries.
Subsequently, a decision was taken that his case need not be confirmed.
However, during former PM Manmohan Singh’s term, a clarification was sought from the PMO “as to why his case is not being processed”.
Prasad said again the matter was considered by the collegium and the body, in its collective wisdom, took a call that he need not be recommended at all. Subsequently, a note was sent from the then Department of Justice with the approval of the then law minister highlighting certain sensitivities. Thereafter, a call was taken by the collegium and it was decided that his case can be considered for extension.
Prasad said the judge in question has since retired and was no more now and the judges under reference in the collegium have also retired. “The clock cannot be wound back,” added Prasad.
However, the controversy also provided a fresh impetus for the NDA government to pursue its proposed plan of replacing the collegium system of appointments to the Supreme Court and high courts with a National Judicial Commission.
Prasad said he took note of the concerns made by AIADMK member Thambidurai and there is an imperative need to improve the system of appointment of judges.
“Our government is quite keen to ensure that the National Judicial Commission System is appointed,” said the Law Minister.
The controversy erupted after Katju had alleged that three former chief justices of India made a compromise during the previous UPA regime by allowing a Tamil Nadu judge to continue in office despite serious charges of corruption. The AIADMK had raised the issue on Monday, demanding that the government name the DMK ministers.
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha witnessed two back-to-back adjournments after the AIADMK members trooped into the Well demanding action by the government.
In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised by AIADMK member V Maitreyan, triggering counter-attacks by the DMK, leading to 10 minutes of adjournment during Question Hour.