Govt weaker sections appointments in high courts, Jan 04 2001
Our Political Bureau

RULES of appointment that specifically bar placing judges to the Supreme Court and the High Court on the basis of caste or class notwithstanding, the central government has written letters to all state chief ministers directing them to recommend persons from weaker sections for appointment in all high courts.

An official release from the Centre yesterday sought to downplay the significance of the move on the contention that such letters asking for recommendations from persons from the bar belonging to the SC,ST and OBC communities as well as from the minority communities and from among women were addressed to the states from `time to time.’

Justifying the decision to shoot off letters to state governments and to chief justices of high courts, the release, however, underlined that the Centre was `very keen’ to appoint members of weaker sections to the posts despite the rules of appointment.

Explaining that the appointments would only be made in the event that chief justices of high courts and the state governments arrive at a consensus to identify and recommend specific candidates to the post of chief justice of high court, the official release held that this would not be tantamount to flouting the rules.

Further, the Centre pointed out, no recommendations on the basis of caste and class had been made up to now in the judicial services although letters urging recommendations to the post of chief justice from the weaker sections had been written earlier to the state governments.

"So far, the government has not received any recommendation of the Law Commission of India for the appointment of women lawyers as judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court," the release said. Appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution, which do not provide for reservation of any caste or class of persons.

Although the issue has been mooted time and again over the last decade by various political parties and leaders — Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP manifesto which was released just yesterday also put up a strong defence for this — moves to introduce a quota in the judiciary, even if by recommendation, have invited strong criticism as with similar demands for a proportional quota in the armed forces.

On the flip side, ironically, Dalit leaders have time and again pointed out that the gestures towards a proportionate representation for weaker sections in the judiciary have remained at the level of lip service.

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