On a day the Congress accused the government of blocking the appointment of judges, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said 52 new judges have been appointed since January and 89 additional judges elevated as permanent judges.
He also said he has directed his officials to “expedite” the process of appointment of judges.
“Since January, 89 additional judges have been made permanent and 52 new judges appointed,” he told reporters here. While refusing to take questions on the memorandum of procedure — a document which guides appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts — he said “it is a work in progress. I will not comment on it.”
The government had drafted the memorandum on the directions of the Supreme Court. But there are disagreements on certain key provisions of the document and the government and the judiciary are working to iron out the differences.
“Independence of judiciary is article of faith for the Narendra Modi government… six senior ministers, right from the Prime Minister, have fought for the independence of judiciary during Emergency… the Emergency saw maximum attacks on the judiciary,” Prasad said.
Responding to a question on the decision of the apex court to strike down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, he said the SC has decided the issue. “Past is past. But it reflected extraordinary consensus of Parliament where it was passed unanimously. 20 state assemblies ratified it unanimously,” he said.
In the Rajya Sabha today, Congress leader Anand Sharma alleged that the government was blocking the appointment of judges as it was “very angry” after the Supreme Court’s decision in the National Judicial Appointments Commission case.
“For the last one year, the collegium, the CJI, they have made recommendations to the government, but after the NJAC judgment, the government seems to be very angry and on path of confrontation with the collegium of the Supreme Court,” Sharma said.