THERE HAVE BEEN BITS AND PEIECES BEING REPORTED ABOUT WHAT I SPOKE IN RAJYASABHA . I HAD UNDERLINED THE NEED TO HAVE SOCIAL INCLUSIVITY AND TRANSAPARNCY . WHAT I SPOKE IS REPRODUCED- There could be minor changes but not substantive.
1. At the very outset let me pay my rich tributes to the martyrs who lost their lives in the resoundingly successful farmers protests and other participants of this yearlong historic agitation.
With equal heaviness to my heart, I stand with the families and near ones bereaving in the killing of innocent civilians in Nagaland . And now my head before the memory of General Bipin Rawat and others .
Let me also express my solidarity with 12 suspended colleagues, including my leader Elamaram Kareem, who were penalised in the most undemocratic manner, all of which is a blot on Parliamentary democracy.
2.Since today’s topic is about judge’s pensions, naturally justice is what we need to discuss here. Sir, though i am a new member I have been part of this House since 1988 when I started covering the Parliament as a young reporter. I have seen many a ruckus in this House, but never in the history has such a unilateral and biased action was taken. I recollect the then chairman shankar dayal Sharma literally breaking down because of heated scenes. One of those who made sharmaji weep is now a BJP member of Parliament, SS Ahluwalia, who was then a Congress leader. Nobody was suspended then or even named or warned.
3.Coming to the Bill, the pertinent point here is the independence of the judiciary. The honourable law minister Kiren Rijju has made it clear that the purpose of this Bill is to make the legislative intent clear about the additional quantum of pensions. I fully appreciate it. But does he understand that there is a serious lacuna because although we decide such matters we have no role in the appointment of judges. Does this exist anywhere else in the word?
4.Judges appointing judges is unheard of. And strangely the law minister doesn’t have a firm view. There has been a demand for a National Judicial Appointment Commission which should represent judiciary, executive, legislature, Bar and the public with provisions for bringing in transparency and accountability. Let people know who are going to be their judges and their competence, ability and integrity. Should there be system shrouded in mystery , secrecy and darkness ?
5.Are we creating a system of patronage , give and take . Are we creating an oligarchy? We have judges families . I vouch for the fact there are brilliant judges with high level of integrity from judges families . But that should be exceptions and not rule in a Democracy. Sir let me read out a profile of a judge from a high court website : Mr. Justice so and so ) born on 7th July, He belongs to a family associated with Judiciary. His Maternal Great Grandfather, (Late Sri ) nth Chief Justice of India. His Maternal Grandfather (Hon’ble Late Sri was the former Acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court. One of his maternal uncle (Hon’ble Sri , has been former Judge of the Supreme Court of India. His Maternal Uncle, Hon’ble Mr. Justice ) is a sitting Judge
6. It is six years since the SC struck down this proposal, but this government has found it convenient and expedient so that there is a barter.The government has successfully spiked the appointments of those who are inconvenient to them. And the govt has been sitting on the proposals of the collegium whenever they find certain names who are persona non grata for them. some judges are transferred for unknown reasons as a punishment. But some CJ ( Kashmir ) openly speaks against secularism and thus the constitution. no age criteria for becoming judges, some are rejected for want of age , some are appointed overnight.
7.I don’t want to take names, but can we be oblivious about justice Akil Qureshi who was not deliberately elevated to the supreme court. What was his crime Sir? Was it because he sent one of the powerful people in this dispensation in the Sohrabuddhin Sheikh case to jail? Or was he discriminated against because he was born in the Sabarmati ashram or was it because his grandfather a close associate of the Father of the Nation who returned from South Africa to take a plunge into the freedom struggle? Wasn’t he kicked around like a football ?
As per the constitution HC and HC judges are not subordinate. Both the Supreme Court and HC are constitutional courts . But the power of Supreme Court collegium has made high courts just subordinate institutions. High Court judges are seen coming out with pleasing comments for the Centre .
8.Sir, our minister Kiren Rijju is both intelligent and clever. He commented about the demand for judicial commission. He said that such a view is coming from various quarters, including retired judges. He considers this as a sensitive issue, and yet he refused to give any commitment. This is so typical of this government and its carrot and stick policy. He is in fact indirectly telling the collegium and the supreme court that if they don’t toe the line, he will crack the whip. Why should the law minister shy away from expressing the desire of the legislature and the executive? The reason is very simple. The government finds the present system suitable for picking and choosing yes-men. There are cases where the govt had not consented to names by the collegium for years , despite the fact that the SC had emphatically stated that once returned the executive must give consent.
9.Sir, i will give you some statistics. On 2nd December, the honorable minister while replying to my question listed the number of proposals pending at different levels which were sent from high court collegiums. 75 names are pending with the department of justice which are yet to be sent to SC. 35 proposals recommended by the SC collegium are pending with the department. Three proposals are with the PMO. 13 proposals are submitted to the ministry of law and justice. Sir, I do not want to say anything more or cast any aspersions. But as anyone can make out this not a transparent system. The high courts currently function with just 59 percent of its actual strength. To be precise, 406 posts of judges are lying vacant in high courts against the required strength of 1098. And that is when 57 lakh cases are pending in high courts alone. Altogether, almost 4.5 crore cases are pending in the country.
10. I am sure the key framer of the Constitution and the first law mnister Dr BR Ambedkar will be turning in his grave seeing how judicial appointments are made and how the independence of the judiciary is tampered with in Modi’s India. It is true that ambedkar was not in favour of prohibiting judges of the SC or HC in taking up an office of profit after retirement. In fact, he never visualised this kind of a scenario. If he had, he would have concurred with the motion moved by Professor KT Shah in the Constituent assembly for prohibiting post retirement assigments for the judges. Professor Shiban Lal Saxena’s words of wisdom in the Constituent assembly must ring loud in our ears. “If the temptation of being appointed to other high positions after retirement is not removed, it will also be liable to be abused by the executive, or by any party in power. And they may hold out such temptations which might affect the independence of the judiciary.”
11. And sir what did our former Law Minister Late Arun Jaitley said – “ In some cases pre retirement judicial conduct is influenced by the desire to get post retirement assignment “ and he didn’t stop there sir – “There are two kinds of judges – those who know the law and those who know the Law Minister “. “We are the only country in the world where judges appoint judges, Even though there is a retirement age, judges are not willing to retire “! Dear Law Minister – you seem to be happy now .. is it because of the reasons stated by Jaitley – many judges want to know the Law Minister ?! I am sure like Dr Ambedkar .. Jaitley also will be turning in his grave seeing the way in which our judicial appointments happen .
12.In the light of all what have been said by Arun Jaitley and others ..shouldn’t we pass a series of judgements or lack of them through the prism of wisdom. I have no hesitation in expressing the anguish of the public and legal fraternity and others in referring to a few judgements or absence of them. Exactly three years ago, the Supreme Court dismissed the Rafale case. Interestingly, even while claiming that there are no materials to suggest irregularities, the Bench sat on a trial instead of ordering an investigation. Overnight orders were passed to divest the powers of CBI director Alok Verma.
13.Sir, Article 1 of the Constitution says that India is a Union of States and that this should be permanent feature of the Indian Constitution. On a fine day when a state was converted as a Union Territory, where we not giving a death blow to the basic character of our constitution? Why is it that there was an omission from the highest court of judiciary. Sir, I don’t want to talk about the Ayodhya verdict because the former CJI himself had said he had celebrated it over an expensive bottle of wine. But the common man will still be puzzled to know the interconnect between a heinous crime and an act of benevolence. The judges would certainly wish to forget about cases like electoral bonds. Even the election commission had filed an affidavit expressing serious reservations about the anonymous electoral bonds schemes by describing it as a “retrograde step” as far as transparency of donations is concerned.
14.If an average citizen believes that everything is not alright and that there was skeletons in the cupboard we cannot fault them. Is not a fact that Nitin Gadkari had called for 2 years cooling period before a judge takes up another assignment . Didn’t Justice Lodha adhere to this ? But now we see even the buglows are not vacated as a smooth migration is ensured . At what cost sir ?
15.India is a diverse country and the judiciary has to reflect the social realities of this countey. The present scheme of appointment ensures that only a particular class process are rewarded by the govt. And a new class ia being created. Of course, there are exceptions. There are brilliant judges from the families of judges. I don’t dispute . But the judiciary of this country deserves encompassing nature and pluralism. It should not be restricted to just one thought process.
16.— let me remind the law minister it’s so called or claimed philosophy behind one of the exercises the PM undertook .
With the expansion of the Cabinet to include a sizeable number of OBCs, SCs and STs, this will be the most socially diverse council of ministers in the history of independent India. Modi has ushered in an Inclusive India for the first time – the BJP spokespersons were seen speaking shrilling voice . I don’t want to comment about that . And does it mean that when it comes to judiciary we are least bothered about the social representation? Should political expediency make us go blind on it ? Let me dole out some statistics . If I am wrong let the Law Minister correct me .
17.Out of 47 Chief Justices of India till date, at least 14 have been Brahmins.
From 1950-1970, the maximum strength of the Supreme Court was 14 judges and 11 out of them were Brahmins .
From 1971-1989, the number saw a further increase. During this period 18 judges were aBrahmins.
In 1988, there were 17 judges at the Supreme Court and and 9 of them were Brahmins. This gave the Supreme Court more than 50% Brahmin representation.
irrespective of the political ruling establishment, the average 30-40% quota for Brahmins at the Supreme Court has remained constant.
18.The judiciary functions in a Democratic ecosystem. I am glad that the other day the PM emphasised the importance of free media and independent judiciary while addressing the summit of Democracy organised by US President Joe Biden . His words appear stellar, but his deeds are hobbling such efforts.PM talks about a free media when India has plummeted further down , to 142nd slot under his watch. Are we also not responsible for this? Why are our press galleries empty or have a deserted look ? Why is that when malls, cinemas, eateries and bars and schools are open, we see Covid a media centric pandemic? If the PM stands by his pronouncement for an independent judiciary and free media, the galleries and the central hall must be kept open for them.
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