January 4, 2018
Kalyan Banerjee speaks on The High Court And The Supreme Court Judges (Salaries And Conditions Of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017
Honourable Deputy Speaker Sir, today we are discussing the High Court And The Supreme Court Judges (Salaries And Conditions Of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017 where the salaries are going to be increased. Sir, in the last year it had been seen, that the fee has been increased more than double or three times.
I will just give the data. The salary was previously Rs 80,000. As on November, 2017, a HIgh Court Judge had been receiving Rs 1.1 lakh as Dearness Allowance. The total comes to Rs 1.9 lakh. Naturally it would be merged; the principle is to merge Dearness Allowance. Now they are getting Rs. 2.25 lakh. That means nearly Rs 23,000 has been increased in substance, of the High Court Judge. Not that it has been increased three times, only Rs 23,000 has been increased, as it should have been. Later on, they will get the Dearness Allowance, whatever it may be. But, as it stands today, only Rs 23,000 has been increased.
Sir I am not opposing this Bill. But Sir, let me say something about this. India is the largest democratic country in the world, and our judiciary plays a tremendous role in strengthening the democracy of this country. There is no doubt about that. And there is no doubt about the fact that the poorest of the poor people in the country still have confidence in our judiciary. We should be proud of our judiciary. But I will point out certain certain issues that need to be resolved for the country and the people to not suffer.
Let me address first the number of pending cases in the Courts. I hear lectures of dignified judges in various seminars, and i would like to ask how many pending cases are there? If I am right, as it stands today, there are six vacancies in the Supreme court. Sir, for months there has not been a single representation from the Calcutta High Court in the Supreme Court, while there are four to five representatives from the Bombay High Court. Where is the balance? If I am right there is only one representative from the Patna and Odisha High Court, each.
Why has the eastern region been so overlooked? Only Bombay and South India will do? One of the judges of the collegium has said I will not sit down until a judge is appointed to fill up the vacancy of a particular High Court in South India? Is this the spirit of the judge of a collegium, that the judge is concerned only with the filling up of the vacancy of the High Court he was from? Then the collegiums will consider the appointment of the other judges.
If I am right, as it stands today, there are vacancies for nine chief justices in this country. And for one long year, Calcutta High Court has no chief justice. If I am right, then there are nearly 355 vacancies for judges all over the country. Whose fault is this? Is it that the collegium of the Supreme Court has not recommended the names to the Central Government or is it that the names are pending before the Central Government? So far as my knowledge goes, the names have not been recommended. The law is this, which was decided in the Second Judges Case by the Supreme Court: The process should be started by the High Courts and the Supreme Court six months before the vacancy is to arise. But year after year, vacancies are not filled up. I, through you, appeal to the Law Minister to please take up the matter.
Can I raise a question to the Hon’ble Law Minister about the way the vacancies are being filled? One of my friends was saying, why the ego? The disputes between the judges in the collegiums are coming within the public domain. The dignity of the judiciary is going down. There may be disputes, there may be differences of opinion, but these are most confidential things. How can they come into the public domain by sending letters? What is the practice? Is it appreciable? No one appreciates this, but every day we are seeing these things.
What is the procedure for the selection of judges? I will give you one instance. You will be surprised. Let the nation know. The name of one very eminent lawyer of the Calcutta High Court was sent by the collegium of the High Court nearly two years back. The collegiums did not recommend his case. What was the ground? The ground was that he was the nephew of one of the chief justices of Allahabad High Court. He is now the assistant advocate-general of West Bengal. Now, today, another lawyer, who is also very eminent, has been recommended by the Calcutta High Court to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has recommended his name. And he is the son of that late chief justice. The nephew was excluded because of the relationship but the son has been accepted. Is it the ipse dixit of the collegium? Can there be any ipse dixit of the collegium? What is the procedure? Let us understand the procedure. Sir one of this eminent council of Calcutta High Court whose case was recommended, ultimately collegium didn’t recommend his case because his grandfather was a Congressman. Now one of the name has been recommended by the Calcutta High Court and in turn it has been recommended to the Supreme Court. She is the daughter of one of the prominent political leaders of West Bengal. Why this discrimination? I can’t understand this. In principle, nobody who is the relative of a political personality should be recommended. I have no objection to that. But I have an objection if a relative of a politician of one political party would not be recommended but from another political party he is recommended. That is not appreciable at all.
So what is the procedure of selection? I am on there. I will be asking the question that whether the MOP (method of procedure) has been finalized or not? Why so much differences of opinion between the Supreme Court and the Central Government regarding the finalization of the MOP and because of this, we are all suffering.
Now Sir I will come to the most important point. Who is responsible? Constitution has given the responsibility to make the law. What should be the law? Constitution has given the responsibility to the Parliament and the State Legislation to legislate law and what is going on today? What is going on? Under the garb of excessive power of Article 142 of the Constitution of India all principles and all guidelines have been fixed, laws are determined. What is it amounting to, now that the process is going on. The Supreme Court is legislating the law.They are legislating the law. It depends on their own perception.
Sir, there is a case in 1982 before the House of Lords. It is in the All England Law reports.There was a contempt, contempt of the legislators and ultimately it went to the House of Lords. The argument was ‘the legislatures were that much educated that who can legislate the law’. House of Lords ultimately said ‘whether a legislator or a Parliamentarian is educated or not is not the business. But business is, he goes to people of the country, to the grassroots level, and he understands what the requirements are. Sitting in an AC chamber, one is thinking, sitting in big big places, one is thinking that this should be the perception. No, that cannot be the Law. A perception cannot be made into a Law through a judicial process. Legislation should be left to the Parliament.
Sir, the way the things are going on today, my reading of the thing is this: either today or tomorrow, maybe after five years or 10 years or 15 years, there would be direct conflict between the Parliament and the Judiciary, unless this practice is stopped. The time has come. I will appeal to all Parliamentarians, irrespective of the parties and beyond the party lines, to come and let us go and make an application before the Supreme Court in an appropriate case. You can’t legislate a Law, legislation is the responsibility of Parliament. Let us all MPs go. Our functions cannot be taken away.
What should be done? In what way you will walk? How long would you remain? Everything would be decided. Because unfortunately the perception is this, that all politicians are bad for the Judiciary. All are bad. They kind of get some bad smell whenever a politician is there. Everyone is bad. Now, day by day, naturally in this country, the conflict is coming up and unless it is stopped by the Judiciary immediately, after 10 or 15 years, whether I would live up to that day or not, that day is coming when there will be direct conflict and then what would happen to the country itself? Let everyone discharge their own responsibilities, do not transgress the jurisdiction.
Sir, you will be astonished, I am fighting a case of a Labour Union; I started it in 1992. The labourer hasn’t got his final relief till today, even after 26 years. I am spending money from my own pocket. If you are a rich person you will get the justice quickly but if you are a poor person you have to suffer decades after decades.
Therefore, there is good money, where is good justice? A matter concerning a big company is settled – from lower court to Supreme Court – within a year. But in case of a poor person you have to remain in a queue and wait for your turn until the gentlemen is going to die.
Now Sir, I was talking about what Prof. Thomas has said about the middlemen. When I was in Calcutta I heard about the names of the middlemen. I am an MP from 2009 till now. I am now at Delhi and I see so many middlemen. Some of the judges turn out to be blacksheep. Not all. And who are doing this? Some middlemen, lawyer are responsible for this. I will request the law minister, since the finance minister is not here, that if there is an investigation of a scam by the CBI, why shouldn’t there be any investigation for these type of middlemen by the CBI?
Next am coming to infrastructure, which has to be improved. How much money has been spent for the judges’ training, judges’ seminar? I don’t know why it is required at all. If they are required to be taught then why have they been made Judge? A Judge has to decide a case on the basis of the facts before him and on the basis of the law. What training will a High Court Judge go and take in Bhopal and how will they implement it? I don’t know. I can’t understand this.
The law minister can say how much money is being spent because he is giving the money. I can understand if they trains law students but I cannot understand why a High Court judge has to take training and has to travel from Calcutta or Kerala to Bhopal for getting training. If he needs training then why has he become a Judge? Public money is unnecessarily being wasted in the name of seminars and classes.
Sir, often in many quarters I hear that the number of holidays should be decreased. Sir, this is a very good topic. Sir, often I have to hear the criticism of the judiciary for being a politician. Therefore my skin has become thicker than anybody else. I have to bear it.
This is a serious question – that holidays have to be decreased. So much holidays!
The law minister may consider bringing legislation to the extent that court timings cannot be closed because of anybody’s death barring VVIPs like the President of India. Why the court time would be stopped? Someone has died, court is closed, and this has become a practise in so many places. There are so many pending cases. I am not taking the name of the High Court. Some lawyers are only interested to take leave, how Court can be stopped.
I am not talking about my interest; at least you can understand that at least today I am not speaking about my interest. I am speaking for the interest of the entire country. Because for me, I had to come to a profession in compelling circumstances.
Now, my next point is on live telecast of court proceedings. We often face criticism for disruptions in Parliament. A lot of criticism is there. Why an MP should always be blamed? If a live telecast of Supreme Court/ High Court is done, then everyone will understand how they behave in courts.
My next point is removal of a dead wood judge. Once a person is appointed for this position he/she is carefree and takes everything for granted because they will be serving for 15 years. Sir, I have had a lot of experience like I have seen a judge taking up a matter at 10:30 AM and continuing with the same matter up to 4:30 PM. Do we need these type of judges in our country? They have just turned into dead wood.
If a dead wood in civil service can be made to take compulsory retirement then why the same can’t be done to a dead wood judge. We need performance, those who can’t perform they have to leave.
Sir, so far where the Bill is concerned, it is all right, let them have it. I know we won’t get it. Sir, through you, I just request the hon law minister to answer a question of mine. Whether the administrative side of the Supreme court or the High court is liable to give explanation to the Parliament or not, that’s my question, and I have seriously thought about this question for the last two or three days. Now this is the administrative side because budgets are sanctioned through the Parliament therefore administrative side is liable. The administrative side or the judicial is liable to give an explanation. They owe an explanation to the Parliament itself; seriously think about these questions.
I am not disputing this as everyone is supreme in his own field. The political executive is supreme in its own field, the judiciary is supreme in its own field, Parliament is supreme in its own field but today’s question, Sir, is whose supremacy – Parliament or judiciary?
Sir , today my speech is not based on politics; it is based on professional experience. We, being parliamentarians, have to give an explanation to the voters. The judges are not required to give explanation; but we have to give an explanation every five years. We are accountable, they are not accountable.
Thank you, Sir.