Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that there was “need for transparency” in the appointment of judges and the “autonomy of the judiciary should be respected”.
Replying to questions at the daylong India TV Conclave on ‘Four years of Modi government’, Prasad said that there was unanimity among political parties on the National Judicial Accountability Commission (NJAC) Bill but it was struck down by the top court.
“The Supreme Court Collegium in its verdicts in 1993, 1998 and 2015 had admitted that the Centre had the right to review the decisions taken by the Collegium, and the present government was only exercising that right,” he said.
Without naming Justice C.S. Karnan of Calcutta High Court, who was jailed for six months by the Supreme Court for contempt, he said: “When we went through the file of that judge, it was written that he was an appointee of the Collegium.
“It was written on the file that he had a good knowledge of various laws. Naturally, that judge had no knowledge about contempt. So, somewhere or other, there is need for improvement in judiciary,” he said.
He also pointed out that apart from the stay on judges’ appointment in 2014 and 2015 due to NJAC issue, 126 judges were appointed in 2016 and 117 judges in 2017, and appointment of more is in the pipeline.
As he said “Transparency in judiciary is our commitment”, Prasad, asked if it was his view that there was no transparency in judiciary now, replied: “I didn’t say this. There is need for improvement, and that is the directive from the judiciary itself.”
He again reiterated that the government’s sending back the file relating to the appointment of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K.M. Joseph “has nothing to do with the verdict given by Justice Joseph striking down President’s rule in the state”.
On the unprecedented press conference by four sitting Supreme Court judges, he said: “I would not say anything on this. I have full faith in the farsightedness of the apex court judges in ironing out their differences.”