PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU
Union Law Minister, Veerappa Moily, on Tuesday firmly rejected the suggestions for setting up Supreme Court benches in different parts of the country. “The Law Commission had recommended the setting up of Supreme Court benches. The matter was referred to Attorney General G.E.Vahanvati. He has not agreed to it. The issue is now closed’’. In an informal chat with reporters, he said the Government, was, however, open to consider the idea of establishing a system of third appellate courts as suggested by the Chief Justice of India.
“We will discuss the matter with the judiciary. But, presently, nothing concrete is on the ground. We are in the process of thinking on the issue’’, he added. Asked about the demands for setting up of benches of High Courts, Mr. Moily said principles have to be laid down to consider such requests, and for that, his Ministry was toying with the idea of setting up a committee. “Requests [for High Court benches] are plenty. We have to take an objective view on that. We have to lay down criteria by which the requests could be considered’’.
He noted that the Supreme Court had made it clear that High Court benches could be set up only with the consent of Chief Justices of the High Courts. Asked about the issue of honour killings, he said his Ministry has suggested to the Home Ministry to introduce a Bill to put an end to the problem by amending the Evidence Act to make such an offence a presumptive guilt, with all members of the Panchayats concerned made equally responsible.
The Ministry has suggested that the Bill be a comprehensive one and include a provision to amend the IPC to cover honour killings also under the definition of murder and another to reduce, if not totally do away with the notice period under the Special Marriages Act. Asked about the proposed Judges Accountability and Standards Bill, he said a Cabinet note has been circulated to the Ministries concerned and expressed the hope that it would be ready to be put up before the Cabinet in the next fortnight.
On Women’s Reservation Bill, he expressed confidence that it would be re-tabled in Parliament in the coming Budget session. Noting that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice has recently given its report on the Bill, he said his Ministry was would place the Bill again before the Cabinet and then re-introduce it in Parliament. He said the Government was in the process of notifying a three-member Rajya Sabha committee to look into the allegation of misconduct by Karnataka Chief Justice, P.D. Dinakaran, who is facing removal proceedings.
Mr. Moily announced that a national consultation on second generation legal education reform would be held in April for a wide ranging discussion on how the legal education system in the country could be made world class. All stakeholders would be invited for the discussion to be held on April 10 and 11.