Govt mulling new system for judges selection

Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and his predecessor Salman Khurshid

The move to set aside the 1993 Supreme Court judgement which led to the Collegium system will require a Constitutional amendment.

The last effort to replace the collegium system in 2003 could not succeed. The then NDA government introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill, but the Lok Sabha was dissolved when the bill was before a Standing Committee.

A vision statement of the Law Ministry issued in October, 2009 had said the Collegium system was hindering the efforts to end shortage of judges and suggested involvement of executive and legislature to hunt for the best talent.

Replying to a volley of questions on a controversial clause in the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill which seeks to debars judges from making verbal comments against any constitutional authority in open courts, Kumar insisted it was not a "gag order".

"I would like to very categorically dispel that nothing in the Bill should be treated as a gag order. We hope to bring in a provision which will only reiterate that the Supreme Court has already stated in a number of its judgements which states that courts must refrain from making observations against anyone where such observations are not strictly necessary for the decision of the case before the court," he said.

A few days ago, Kumar had said that the government has decided to retain the clause "in some form."

The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session this year amid din over Telangana.

Following stiff opposition by eminent jurists and the higher judiciary, government had agreed to have a relook at the clause even as it decided against tabling it in Rajya

Sabha in the Monsoon session.

The Opposition too had demanded amending the clause.

It allows the citizens to complain against corrupt judges, but has been facing criticism for this provision which jurists says would "virtually gag" the judges in open courts.

... contd.

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