Need to broad-base appointments of judges: Law minister

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 09, 2013 11:50 hrs

Mumbai, March 9 (IANS) Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar said here Saturday that there was a need to broadbase the process of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts.

Speaking to mediapersons, Kumar said that a political consensus has been built on the same and admitted that "the present process had not proved to be adequate and there was a need to relook and revisit the issue".

Currently, judges are appointed by a five-judge Supreme Court collegium.

Kumar said that the ministry was ready with a draft bill for setting up the National Judicial Appointments Commission, which will have legislative representation as well, besides the judiciary.

He said wide-ranging consultations have been held with political leaders and legal experts. "Former chief justices of India J.S. Verma and M.N. Venkatachaliah are among those strongly backing setting up of an independent body for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary."

Kumar also admitted that a large number of vacancies in judiciary has had an adverse impact on the justice delivery system.

"Presently, there are over three crore cases pending in various courts across the country. The ministry is taking steps to increase the number of judges as well as fast tracking the appointment process," he said.

Detailing the steps being taken for providing cost effective justice for people, Kumar said a total 182 Gram Nyayalas were being set up at the intermediate panchayat level. Out of these, 172 have already become operational.

He also said that over 14,000 subordinate courts are being computerised to speed up justice delivery.

"Expediting appointment of judges, establishment of e-courts, computerisation, fast-track courts and other administrative measures will effectively deal with the challenge of slow pace of justice delivery in the country", he said.

Referring to the issues relating marital rape and reducing the age of consensual sex from 18 to 16, Kumar said: "There are divergent views. All having considerable weight and therefore they need to be thoroughly debated. The government has an open mind, provided there is political consensus."

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