Newly inducted Minister of State for Law & Justice PP Chaudhary has blamed the courts for the delay in the appointments of the judges.
In an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Chaudhary has said that Modi government so far has appointed the maximum number of judges and has no intention to control the judicial appointments as media is making it out to be.
Chaudhary did admit that last year there were no judicial appointments because of the controversy over the National Judicial Appointments Commission but now things are different. He said that the government on the basis of the new Memorandum of Procedure was in the process of appointing more than 85 judges.
Chaudhary dismissed reports of mistrust between the judiciary and the legislature. Even though the BJP government respects the independence of the judiciary, he categorically stated that the Judiciary cannot challenge the Legislature.
He also stated that All India Judicial Services was the need of the hour. He praised Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to consider a quota and sub quota within the lower judiciary.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:
Figures on the number of cases that are pending are startling – 22 lakh cases from UP, 13 lakh from West Bengal and so on. Are you being able to sleep peacefully as a law minister?
Not at all, but let me tell you that these figures are not correct. The number of pending cases has actually gone down.
How does government explain the delay in the appointment of judges despite so many vacancies?
SC stayed NJAC appointments. Till Dec 2015, no appointment was done. 14 chief justices will be appointed soon. The government has no hand in judges’ appointments. The Modi government has recruited most judges so you can’t say that there is a delay.
Can we see the judiciary and the legislature sitting together to resolve issues amicably? There is a perception that there is mistrust between the judiciary and the legislature?
Periodical meeting should be initiated between the two. In a democracy all institutions must be accountable. Under the UPA, the constitution was amended to undermine the judiciary. The judiciary cannot challenge the Parliament. But the Parliament represents citizens of India and is the main pillar of democracy.
Why is there a feeling that both the judiciary and the legislature are into some kind of a conflict. Almost every event we see where the Prime Minister shares the dais with the Chief Justice – the two institutions seem to be pitted against each other?
There is nothing like that. We respect the independence of the judiciary. Both legislature and judiciary need the space. Both are functioning well. It’s a false impression that is being created.
How serious is the government about All India Judicial Services?
Government is serious about creating all-India judicial services. It’s the need of the hour. It’s a road to legal reforms, just like the Indian Administrative Services or the Indian Police Services or Foreign Services.
Prime Minister recently spoke about quota within quota in lower judiciary. People say the timing of the announcement smacks of political opportunism keeping an eye on election in UP and Punjab?
It’s wrong to see everything from a political angle.
Recently Arvind Kejriwal said that the phones of judges were tapped. Is the Opposition encashing on the mistrust factor between the judiciary and the legislature?
There is no mistrust. Again I am reiterating that. As far as Arvind Kejriwal is concerned I can only say that he should have verified before making a statement of which he is not even sure of. It does not hold good for the position he is in. I don’t feel like commenting on the issue for which there is no evidence.