Amid a stand off with the judiciary on the contents of the memorandum of procedure -- a document to guide appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges -- the government on Wednesday said it has “no intention” to interfere in judicial appointments.
“You said we interfere everywhere. We have no such intention. B R Ambedkar was asked (during a Constituent Assembly debate). He had said that we do not want to give right of appointment in one single hand, whether it is the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers or even the Chief Justice of India. This is the spirit of the Indian Constitution.
“...it says the the President shall appoint judges in consultation with the Chief Justice of India,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
He was responding to a question at ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’ on why elected governments seek to have an upper hand in judicial appointments.
Referring to the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act which had sought to scrap the collegium system of judges appointing judges, Prasad said the government has “honestly” accepted the decision but at the same time has certain reservations on it.
He said that going by the order, while the Prime Minister can be trusted with the nuclear button, he cannot be trusted with the appointment of a judge.
He reminded the judiciary that nearly 5,000 posts of judicial officers were vacant in the lower courts and it was the duty of the high courts to fill up the posts and the Centre had no role to play.
For the past nearly one year, the government and the SC collegium are trying to settle their differences over the memorandum of procedure. The revised draft handed over by Prasad to Chief Justice of India T S Thakur is before the consideration of the five-judge SC collegium.