In the middle of a war of words with the Supreme Court, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju today once again highlighted that the government has a very limited role in the appointment of judges.
Mr Rijiju was responding to a question in parliament on the large number of pending cases when he doubled down on his criticism of the collegium system of appointing judges.
He said it was worrying that more than five crore cases are pending across the country. The basic reason, said the minister, was the appointment of judges.
“The government took many steps to reduce pendency of cases, but the government has a very limited role in filling vacancies of judges. The collegium chooses names, and apart from that, the government has no right to appoint judges,” Mr Rijiju said.
He said the government had often conveyed to the Chief Justice of India and High Court Chief Justices to “send names (of judges) that reflect quality and India’s diversity and give proper representation to women”.
But the current system did not reflect the sentiment of parliament or the people, he remarked.
“I don’t want to say much as it may seem like the government interfering in the judiciary. But the spirit of the Constitution says it is the government’s right to appoint judges. It changed after 1993,” he said.
Mr Rijiju also referred to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act brought in 2014, which was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015.
“Unless the procedure of the appointment of judges changes, the issue of high judicial vacancies will keep cropping up,” said the Law Minister.
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