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National Scheduled Castes commission bats for quota in top judicial appointments

NCSC in its annual report to President of India has recommended certain legislative measures including reservation for Scheduled Caste community members in top- level judicial appointments.

“The social composition of the country should be reflected in each area including judiciary. At present there is no judge from the Scheduled Caste community in the apex court whereas in High courts, out of more than 850 judges there are only 18 judges who are Scheduled Caste. This shows there is no partnership of the deprived section of the society in the delivery of justice,” said PL Punia, 
chairman, NCSC. 

It is the judges only collegium system that recommends appointments and transfers of High court and Supreme Court judges.  There are many in the legal fraternity who want a debate on this entire matter. “You cannot have social justice without having proportionate representation of the deprived classes in the judiciary,” said senior advocate and Rajya Sabha member KTS Tulsi. Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa, who is also an advocate, added, “Objective of reservation is that the community which has been denied adequate representation in certain fields be accommodated. Going by statistics of the past 65 years, it is obvious that only a handful of Scheduled caste members have been able to break the glass ceiling in judiciary.”  

However, this recommendation has already kicked up a massive row as many legal eagles and political parties are of the view that appointment of judges should be on merit and not caste. 

BJP spokesperson and Supreme Court advocate Nalin Kohli said, “The judicial appointments are completely merit- based with regard to representation from various communities. There has been representation at the very highest level from various communities, including minorities and backward castes and they all made it on merit.”

Honorary Secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association Gaurav Bhatia said, “There shouldn’t be any reservation on the basis of caste in the judiciary. Merit cannot be compromised in judiciary and armed forces.” He further added that while making appointments it has always been a practice to ensure that there is adequate representation of all communities and gender without compromising on merit.

The political pundits feel that this issue is being raised keeping elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat in mind. These states have a substantial Dalit and Backward class population. Denying the allegations, Punia, who is a Congress Rajya Sabha MP, said, “NCSC is a constitutional body and we have nothing to do with politics. This demand has been raised time and again.”   
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