Rajya Sabha members on Friday called for an all-party meeting to discuss caste-based reservation in the judiciary by amending the constitution though the government said it had no such proposal.
Law Minister Sadananda V Gowda, who was replying to a question on whether his ministry has received requests or suggestions favouring reservation for OBCs, SCs, STs, Muslim and women in the judicial services, said the appointment of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts was made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution which do not provide for any quota for any caste or class of persons.
“The government has, however, requested the Chief Justices of the High Courts that while sending proposals for appointment of judges, due consideration be given to suitabale candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Minorities and from amongst women,” said Gowda.
Gowda said according to Constitution’s Article 235 the administrative control over members of district and subordinate judiciary in the states vested with the High Court concerned.
“Further ... the respective state government, in consultation with the High Court, frames the rules and regulations regarding the issues of appointment, promotion, reservations etc of judicial officers in the state judicial service. Central government has no direct role in this regard,” he said.
Gowda was replying to Congress, CPI and BSP MPs who favoured reservation in higher judiciary.
Responding to demands from members to call an all-party meeting consider the matter, the minister said the suggestion has been “well-taken” and the goernment will look ito it.
Gowda at the same reminded that practically no reservation provision on caste and community lines existed in the appointment of judges in Supreme Court and High Court as per the Constitution.
However, “Government has been repeatedly asking the SC and the HCs please consider reservation while appointing judges,” he said.
On reservation in judicial services and in lower courts, Gowda said there are about 19 states where quota existed in appointments to judicial services and lower courts.
Congres leader Digvijay Singh said since the minister has said that the proposal for NJAC was passed unanimously with support of all parties, what was the problem in amending the Constitution now to press for reservation in judiciary.
The minister, however, made it clear “at present there is no proposal before the government as far as Constitutional amendment is concerned.”