Three months after the joint conference of chief ministers and chief justices of the high courts, held on April 24, the Centre and the judiciary are yet to resolve their differences over certain items in the minutes of the meeting. As a result, the law ministry has not cleared the minutes drafted by the Supreme Court. May it be noted that the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), which is supposed to work as a rulebook for appointments to the higher judiciary, is pending decision due to the turf war.
Indianmandarins has learnt that then Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda had unilaterally decided not to accept the minutes cleared by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur; he wanted changes to some points that, according to him, didn’t convey the true meaning of the deliberations at the one-day conference.
It was at this conference, may it be recalled, where CJI Thakur became emotional in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while lamenting the Centre’s inaction in increasing the number of Judges and improving infrastructure for the judiciary.
A major point of contention in the draft minutes is the proposal to involve private sector service providers in the ambitious e-Courts Indian Judiciary Case Information System, a suggestion made by the chief ministers of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. While the job is being handled by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), there have been concerns about its track record in implementing the project in a seamless way.
Another bone of contention is whether a new committee of Judges should be constituted to deal with the issue of setting up commercial court divisions in high courts and in lower courts. While the government wants an existing committee headed by a Judge to look into the issue, there are some in the judiciary who want another high-powered committee set up for this purpose.
Sources said a series of discussions have recently been held between senior government functionaries and the higher judiciary to thrash out the differences and a final decision could be taken soon. New Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is said to be not in favor of strained relations with the higher judiciary.