In its manifesto released on Tuesday, the Congress has promised to bring in several judicial reforms – including reservation and a counter to the collegium system – if it comes to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.
The party said that it will amend the Constitution to make the Supreme Court a Constitutional Court which will hear and decide cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution and that the party will establish a new judicial body between the High Courts and the Supreme Court, called the Court of Appeals, to hear appeals from judgements and orders of High Courts.
The Congress manifesto states that the new Court of Appeals will sit in multiple benches of three judges each in six locations.
The Congress has also promised to bring in reservation in the judiciary to enhance representation at all levels of the judiciary for women, SC, ST, OBC, minorities and other under-represented sections of society.
Like the CPI(M), the Congress has promised to form a National Judicial Commission (NJC) which will replace the current collegium system which decides the appointment and transfer of judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
“The NJC will be comprised of judges, jurists and parliamentarians and will be serviced by a secretariat. Names of suitable candidates will be placed in the public domain and the reasons for selection will be published to ensure that the entire process is transparent. Once the new system is in place, we will endeavour to fill every vacancy in the High Courts or Supreme Court within 2 months,” the manifesto states.
To discourage post-retirement assignments, the Congress has stated that the retirement age of judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court, as well as of judicial members in Commissions and Tribunals, will be fixed at 65 years. “This will prevent post-retirement assignments for serving judges and allow more opportunities for qualified persons to serve as judges or judicial members,” the manifesto states.
The Congress added that it will establish an independent Judicial Complaints Commission to investigate complaints of misconduct against judges and recommend suitable action to Parliament.
Congress has stated that it will work with the judiciary to improve the administration of courts by introducing modern technology and appointing professionals for court and roster management.
“We will encourage the judiciary at all levels to adopt technological tools to track cases and expedite the hearing and decisions on cases,” the Congress has added in its manifesto.