Led by the leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley, members cutting across party lines in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday expressed concern over what they described as the judiciary overstepping its limits and demanded a change in the system for appointing judges.
With the political class coming under pressure from the judiciary, the concern by members cutting across party lines is being seen as an attempt to assert the supremacy of the parliamentary system.
Participating in the debate to impeach Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta high court, Jaitley said the country could not afford to have a system by which judges such as Sen are appointed.
“We are living in a system where judges appoint themselves. This must change. India needs a National Judicial Commission,” Jaitley said amid thumping of desks in a jampacked House, which included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Referring to some recent decisions of the Supreme Court the former law minister said courts cannot have any ideology. In an apparent reference to a recent Supreme Court judgment that came down heavily on the Salwa Judum movement in Chhattisgarh, Jaitley said, “Recent comments and pronouncements with regard to policy decisions do not fall within the judicial space. How terror is to be fought is in the executive domain.”
Jaitley also stressed on regulating the post-retirement activities of judges. “I believe that no judge should be entitled to a job after retirement,” he said.
Most political parties, including the Congress agreed that the system to appoint judges must change. “This particular case of Soumitra Sen shows that the problem of appointing wrong people as judges can have serious repercussions,” said Congress MP EM Sudarsana Natchiappan.
The Left, the DMK, AIADMK and BJD — all favoured the setting up of a National Judicial Commission.