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House panel blames judiciary for vacancies

The panel says that the judiciary itself was responsible for the vacancies and huge backlog of cases, reports Nagendar Sharma.
Hindustan Times | By Nagendar Sharma, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 17, 2008 02:16 AM IST

A day after the Supreme Court expressed concern over the large number of judges’ posts lying vacant in the country and the tendency among law graduates to take up corporate jobs, a parliamentary panel said on Wednesday that the judiciary itself was responsible for the vacancies and huge backlog of cases.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice said a lack of transparency in the present procedure for appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges and long delays in recruitment of judges for subordinate courts were the main reasons for vacancies in courts throughout the country.

“The root of the problem is the closed system of appointments in the higher judiciary. The entire process is kept so secretive that it gives rise to suspicion. In lower courts throughout the country, it is beyond understanding why the required number of posts are never filled,” committee chairman EM Sudarsana Natchiappan said.

The committee has recommended a review of the entire procedure for appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts. It has asked for inclusion of members from outside the judiciary in the committee that decides on appointments. Eminent members of the public, a government representative, a leader from the opposition and a member of the Bar Council should be part of the panel, along with senior judges, to clear judicial appointments, the committee said.

For filling more than 3,000 vacant posts of judges in subordinate courts throughout the country, the committee has asked the Law Ministry to take steps to set up an All India Judicial Service.

“An All India service would bring uniformity in the procedure for appointing judges in subordinate courts and the required number of vacancies would also be filled well in time,” the committee said.

The parliamentary committee’s recommendations will be placed in Parliament soon. The report will then be sent to the Law Ministry for its response. It is not certain if the government will accept all the recommendations.

The debate on the controversial issue of judges’ appointments was renewed once again on Tuesday when the Supreme Court commented on the vacancies in lower courts.

The court had said, “People (law graduates) are not coming forward to become judges and even those who are appearing in the examinations are unable to meet the required standard.”

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