National Judicial Council

The National Judicial Council is an important topic in polity and governance for the UPSC exam. In this article, you can read about the National Judicial Council, its functions and composition.

SARC recommended that the appointment of judges to higher courts should be through the participation of the executive, legislature and the Chief Justice. It should be a process above day-to-day politics. The council should have the following composition:

  • The Vice President as Chairperson of the Council
  • The Prime Minister
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • The Chief Justice of India
  • The Law Minister
  • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
  • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha

Further, in matters relating to the appointment and oversight of High Court Judges, the council should include the following members:

  • The Chief Minister of the concerned state
  • The Chief Justice of the concerned High Court

The SARC recommended that the National Judicial Council should be authorised to lay down the code of conduct for judges, including the subordinate judiciary. More importantly, the proposed council should be entrusted with the task of recommending appointments of Supreme Court and High Court Judges. Besides, it should also be entrusted with the task of oversight of the judges, and should be empowered to enquire into alleged misconduct and impose minor penalties. Even it can recommend the removal of judges if so warranted. Based on the recommendations of the NJC, the President should have the powers to remove a Supreme Court or High Court Judge. In case this recommendation of the SARC is carried through, Articles 214 and 217 of the constitution will need to be amended. It may be recalled that the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution had examined the issue of appointment and removal of judges. The commission had recommended the constitution of a National Judicial Commission, which would have the effective participation of both the executive and the judicial wings of the state /I as an integrated scheme for the machinery for appointment of judges. It may be recalled that in 2003, the Government of India had introduced in the Lok Sabha the Constitution (Ninety-eighth Amendment) Bill which sought to create a National Judicial Commission (NJC) headed by the Chief Justice of India, two judges of the Supreme Court next to the CJI in seniority, the Union Minister for Law and Justice, ~d one eminent citizen to be nominated by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister, as members. The bill had also proposed to empower the NJC to draw up a code of ethics for judges and to inquire into cases of misconduct of a judge (other than those punishable with his/her removal). The bill could not be passed. The whole issue of regulating the judiciary is in a melting point and being considered at the judicial, executive and legislative levels.

Other Measures

A few suggestions generally mooted for reforms in the judicial system revolve around the following themes:

• Modification of laws and their simplification.

• Curtailing the time taken during the hearing of cases. Fixing time-limits for hearing, wherever feasible.

• Malimath Committee’s recommendation for tackling cases that are more than two years old.

• Controlling the adjournment of cases and placing limit on them.

• Clubbing of similar cases and disposing them off.

• Scientific research on the nature of litigations and exploring ways to reduce them.

• Activating the governmental machinery to reduce the number of litigations involving governments at various levels.

• Revamping the arbitration system and process.

• Using management techniques, including time management, and advanced information technology for the court management.

• Using electronic devices for the filing of cases through the internet.

• Re-invograting the training system for the members of the judiciary at various levels.

• Creation of village courts, strengthening the number of family courts and multiplying Fast Tract Courts.

• Increasing the number of hours of work for the lower courts.

• Increasing the number of judicial officers at all levels.

• Using the services of retired judges for manning special types of courts. Besides, ad-hoc judges could be appointed for five to six years till the pendency is cleared

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