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Fill posts of HC judges first: panel to law ministry

In an unusual move, the government may have to amend a bill passed in the Lok Sabha, following changes recommended by a Rajya Sabha panel on the proposal to set-up special commercial benches in all high courts. Nagendar Sharma reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2010 00:52 IST
Nagendar Sharma

In an unusual move, the government may have to amend a bill passed in the Lok Sabha, following changes recommended by a Rajya Sabha panel on the proposal to set-up special commercial benches in all high courts.

The Rajya Sabha Select Committee, in its report tabled in the House on Thursday, asked law ministry to fill up the vacant posts of judges in all 21 high courts before setting-up of these benches and reduce the threshold value of cases to be decided by them from the proposed Rs five crore to Rs one crore.

The Lok Sabha, in December last year, passed a bill for the creation of special commercial benches in all high courts to decide cases arising out of disputes on ordinary transactions of merchants, bankers and traders, the value of which would be Rs five crore and above.

The Rajya Sabha, however, decided to refer the bill to a select committee, when it was introduced in the House.

The report of the committee, however, was not unanimous, since two members belonging to the Left parties in the nine-member panel, opposed setting-up of special benches and wanted the bill scrapped, terming it "discriminatory."

The panel, headed by senior Congress MP P J Kurien, though rejected the arguments of these MPs, but put certain riders to the bill.

"The committee notes with concern that there is no specific provision in the Bill regarding increasing the strength of judges in high courts to be appointed in the commercial divisions for commercial disputes," stated the report.

"The committee is of the opinion that process of filling up of existing vacancies... must be immediately expedited," the committee recommended.