Above: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad being greeted by law ministry officials after taking charge
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that as stakeholders in the judicial system, he and the Law Ministry will do everything to pursue that stake in consultation with the Supreme Court and high courts.
Speaking to journalists after taking over as the law minister for a second consecutive term, Prasad said that the ministry will not be content acting as a postman. “As the Law Minister, I will not be a post office. “The Law Minister and the Law Ministry have a role as a stakeholder, obviously giving due regard and respect to the collegium system,” he said after taking charge. “We have a stake and we will continue to pursue that stake in consultation with the Honourable Supreme Court and Honourable High Courts,” he added. The comments come in the wake of the government and the Supreme Court Collegium sparring on quite a few occasions in recent times, especially over appointment of judges. From objecting to the elevation of senior advocate Gopal Subramanian as a Supreme Court Judge in June 2014 to opposing the elevation of the former Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court, K M Joseph to the apex court in April 2018, there have been several instances of the government and the Collegium taking different viewpoints.
Only last, the Collegium asserted itself against the Executive on matters of judicial appointments and insisted on the elevation to the top court of two high court judges it had recommended, and proposed two more names, including the first Scheduled Caste nominee to the bench in a decade. The Collegium, which comprises the five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of India, reiterated its April recommendation that Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice Aniruddha Bose and Gauhati Chief Justice AS Bopanna be appointed to the apex court. The Collegium then recommended two more names, of Bombay High Court judge BR Gavai and Himachal Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Surya Kant, for elevation as Supreme Court judges. Brushing aside government’s objection to the names, the Collegium said in a resolution that it had kept in mind the twin parameters of seniority among judges and merit while recommending the names.
On other points, Prasad said that the Triple Talaq Bill would be a priority. “Triple Talaq has been mentioned in our manifesto. Why not?” he said. Among others, Prasad said fast-tracking judicial appointments, creation of the All India Judicial Service and easy access to legal aid for common people will be priorities for his ministry.
—India Legal Bureau