New Delhi: Government will shortly bring a legislation for an alternative system for appointment of judges to replace the present mechanism where a collegium of judges has a larger say in such decisions, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said on Monday. Consultations were on with political parties to evolve a consensus, he told the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour.
"We are thinking of an alternative system for appointment of judges...without disturbing integrity of judiciary," he said. Kumar said there was no justification for the large number of vacancies and "this is right time to bring before the two Houses of Parliament an alternative proposal."
He, however, did not elaborate on the new system being considered but said the government was conscious of not interfering with judicial independence. Noting that the present process of appointment of judges is "not satisfactory", he said his ministry was holding final consultations on the alternative system that would ensure expeditious filling of vacancies.
The new architecture will remove shortcomings in the present system, he said, adding inadequacy of funds will not hold up expansion of judiciary. Currently, there are 278 vacancies in various high courts. The vacancies amount to 30 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of judges. Besides, the present strength of 17,800 judges in the subordinate judiciary needs to be doubled as there are 2.7 crore pending cases.
On the issue of setting up Supreme Court benches in states, Kumar said the apex court had ruled against such a move perhaps with a view not to dilute the integrity of the country. The issue, he said, would be flagged at the next conference of chief justices and chief ministers.