Govt for new ways to select judges

July 23, 2014 - 9:00:12 am

New Delhi: The government yesterday pitched for “improving” the system of judges’ appointment as the controversy over corruption in the judiciary rocked parliament for the second day and Press Council chairman Markandey Katju, who had raised the allegations, posed questions to former CJI RC Lahoti on the issue.

The Lok Sabha was yeserday disrupted by AIADMK members over the allegations by Justice Katju, a former chief justice of the Madras High Court and later an apex court judge, that an additional judge in the high court got an extension due to political pressure despite charges against him.

AIADMK members also raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha and disrupted its proceedings.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad admitted in the Lok Sabha that the incident had indeed taken place during the previous United Progressive Alliance government and the Prime Minister’s Office had sought a clarification concerning the recommendation for the judge.

Meanwhile, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi came down heavily on Katju, charging him with making allegations due to “some hidden pressure” and sought to know why he had remained quiet so long. Katju said in his blog Sunday that an additional judge of the high court was given an extension during the UPA regime despite an adverse Intelligence Bureau report concerning him.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was also mentioned by Katju in his blog, steered clear of the raging controversy and told CNN-IBN news channel that former law minister H.R. Bhardwaj had explained everything and he had nothing to add. AIADMK members in the Lok Sabha charged their arch-rival DMK of interfering in the appointment of the high court judge when Katju was the chief justice in 2004 and sought to know who in the DMK had pressurised the then UPA government not to take action against the judge.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha amid ruckus by the AIADMK members, Prasad said: “In 2003, the collegium had certain reservations and had made some enquiries and decided that the case of this judge should not be taken up.” 

He said a clarification was sought by the PMO as to why the judge should not be recommended and the collegium reiterated its reservations. The law ministry then wrote a note to the collegium following which it said that his case can be considered for some extension. He added that the decision taken could not be undone but the government has taken note of the concern of members.

“There is imperative need to improve on system of appointment of judges,” he said and added that the government was “quite keen” to appoint a national judicial commission. IANS