Higher judiciary suffers from ‘diversity deficit’, laments Parl panel
A Parliamentary committee has lamented that the higher judiciary suffers from “diversity deficit”, noting that the representation of SCs, STs, OBCs, women and minorities in the constitutional courts is far below the desired levels and does not reflect the social diversity of the country.
In its report on “judicial processes and their reform”, the Standing Committee on Law and Personnel also noted that in recent years, there has been a “declining trend” in the representation of all the marginalised sections of Indian society in the higher courts.
“Though there is no provision for reservation in the judicial appointments at the high court and Supreme Court level, the Committee feels that adequate representation of various sections of Indian society will further strengthen the trust, credibility and acceptability of the judiciary among the citizens,” it said.
The panel headed by BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi said it is of the view that while making recommendations for appointments to the higher judiciary, both the Supreme Court and the high court collegiums should recommend an adequate number of women and candidates from the marginalised sections of society, including minorities.
“This provision should be clearly mentioned in the Memoranda of Procedure (MoP), which is presently under finalisation,” it said.
MoP is a document which guides the appointment and transfer of SC and HC judges. The document is being updated by the government and the SC Collegium.
It observed that as of now, data related to the social status of high court judges is available from 2018 onwards and recommended to the Department of Justice in the Union law ministry to find ways and means to collect such data in respect of all judges presently serving in the Supreme Court and the 25 high courts.
“For doing this, if required, necessary amendments may be brought in the respective Acts or service rules of the judges,” it said.
On the issue of having regional benches of the Supreme Court, the committee said it still holds the view that the top court should invoke Article 130 of the Constitution for establishing its regional benches at “four or five locations” in the country.
“The interpretation of Constitution and constitutional matters may be dealt at Delhi and the regional benches may decide appellate matters,” it said.