The finalization of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) is going to take more time, the Ministry of Law and Justice told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
It was on December 16, 2015 that the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had directed the Government to draft a new Memorandum of Procedure [MoP] for appointment of High Court and Supreme Court Judges. The MoP has since been getting tossed back and forth between the Centre and the collegium, with both the sides being adamant on their stands on several issues.
The Centre's recent assertion was tabled as an answer in response to a question raised by MP Tejpratap Singh Yadav, who had sought to know whether the existing judicial system lacked transparency, especially when it came to appointment of Judges. He had further demanded to know the status of the MoP and the effect that its pendency has had on judicial appointments.
In response, Mr. P.P. Chaudhary, who is the Minister of State for Law and Justice and Corporate Affairs made reference to the Supreme Court's judgment on former Calcutta High Court Judge, Justice C.S. Karnan. He then asserted that following this judgment, the Centre had written to the Secretary General of the Supreme Court on 11 July, 2017, highlighting the need to improve the draft MoP.
He then submitted that "as the process of finalizing the supplementation of the existing Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) was likely to take time", the existing MoP is being relied on to make judicial appointments.
Mr. Chaudhary further emphasized on the fact that in 2016, 4 Supreme Court Judges and 14 High Court Chief Justices were appointed. Besides, he stated that 126 fresh appointments were also made in High Courts, which has been claimed to be the highest number in a calendar year.
"During 2017, 5 Judges in the Supreme Court, 8 Chief Justices of High Courts and 115 fresh appointments of Judges in the High Courts have been made," he added.
Furthermore, dodging the question on the steps being taken by the Centre to address the prevailing challenges in the judicial system of the country, Mr. Chaudhary submitted, "The prevailing challenged facing the Judiciary are largely to be addressed by the Judiciary as it is an independent organ under the Indian Constitution. The Government is committed to the independence of Judiciary and does not intervene in its functioning."