Yearender 2012: Judicial reforms flavour of 2012

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In March, the Lok Sabha passed an ambitious bill to lay judicial standards. (Reuters) In March, the Lok Sabha passed an ambitious bill to lay judicial standards. (Reuters)
SummaryIn March, the Lok Sabha passed an ambitious bill to lay judicial standards.

judges in open courts.

The bill, with fresh amendments, is now likely to come up during the Budget session next year.

In his first official press conference last month, Kumar said the government is working on a proposal to change the present mechanism of appointment of judges by a collegium of judges.

He said there was a "large political consensus" to put in place the alternative mechanism.

Under the present collegium system, the executive has no say in appointments of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts as the recommendations of the collegium are final and binding on the government.

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.

Kumar said though the proposal was still undergoing several changes, the proposed National Judicial Commission could be headed by the Chief Justice of India.

"There has been a view that we could consider that the collegium system has had its utility...whatever is required will be done and if we can do it we shall do it. Otherwise, we'll see what is the best way possible," the minister said, noting that the move might entail a constitutional amendment which needs the backing of two-thirds members of a particular House of Parliament.

As pendency of cases in various courts continued to be a major concern, the focus of the ministry on pendency reduction drive this year has been to make the judicial system 'five plus' free - to dispose of cases that are more than five years old.

Simultaneously, emphasis was laid on increasing the number of judges in subordinate judiciary by filling the existing vacancies and creating additional posts so that

disposal of cases is expedited by setting up of additional courts.

The government also made efforts to re-engineer court procedures and court processes for early

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