The Government has not taken any decision as of now on the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code in the country, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju informed Rajya Sabha on February 2, 2023.
The Minister was responding to a query regarding “whether Government has any plan to pass the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill”.
“As per the information received from the Law Commission, the matter related to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) may be taken up by the 22nd Law Commission for its consideration. Therefore, no decision on the implementation of a uniform civil code has been taken as of now,” said Rijiju.
He further responded that the Government had requested the 21st Law Commission of India to examine various issues relating to UCC and make recommendations thereon.
However, the term of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31, 2018, informed the Law Minister.
On the queries regarding “whether the government is heading towards appointing its representative in the process of appointment of judges” and “whether the Government is considering setting up an independent regulator like Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for appointment of judges?”
The Law Minister informed the Parliament that in its recent communication dated January 6, 2023, to the Supreme Court of India, the Government has emphasised the need to finalise the MoP in view of various judicial pronouncements and inter-alia suggested that the Search-cum-Evaluation Committee in respect of appointment of Judges in the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts should consist of a representative nominated by Government of India.
For the appointment of Judges in the High Courts, the Committee should consist of a representative nominated by the Government of India and a representative of State Government(s) under the jurisdiction of the High Court as nominated by the Chief Minister(s).
It has been proposed that for appointment and transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts, the names recommended by the Chief Minister can be received by the Search-cum-Evaluation Committee along with the names taken from senior Judges outside the Collegium and eligible candidates taken from the database (Judicial Officers and Advocates) as maintained by the proposed Secretariat.
The High Court Collegium may deliberate upon a panel of names drawn up by the Search-cum-Evaluation Committee and recommend the names of the most suitable candidates for appointment of Judges in the Supreme Court, Chief Justices and Judges High Courts.
The Collegium, at the appropriate level, may address the above requirements of drawing up a panel of eligible candidates from the aforementioned sources and draw up their proceedings by rendering requisite reasons and thereafter send the proposal to the Government with relevant documents.
Law and Justice Minister, while responding to queries in Parliament, stated that the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and High Court is made under Articles 124, 217 and 224 of the Constitution of India, which do not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons.
“The Government has, however, been requesting the Chief Justices of High Courts that while sending proposals for the appointment of judges, due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women to ensure social diversity in appointment of judges in the High Courts,” said Rijiju.
Enabling representation of women judges in the High Courts against the sanctioned strength of 1108 Judges 775 Judges are working as on January 31, 2023, out of which 106 are women Judges, which makes 9.5 per cent women Judges of the working strength in the High Courts, says Law and Justice Minister.
While responding to the queries in the Parliament, Kiren Rijiju also said the appointment of Judges and Judicial Officers in the District and Subordinate Courts falls within the domain of the High Courts and State Governments concerned.
The Supreme Court of India, through a judicial order in January 2007 in the Malik Mazhar Sultan case, stipulated that the process for recruitment of judges in subordinate courts would commence on March 31 of a calendar year and end by October 31 of the same year.
In the said case, the Supreme Court, taking Suo-motu cognisance of a large number of judicial vacancies in lower courts, directed State Governments/UTs and Registrars General of jurisdictional High Courts to inform the position regarding filling up of judicial vacancies. The Supreme Court is monitoring the filling up of vacancies under the said judicial order.
While replying to the queries, the Law Minister informed the Parliament that 768 Fast Track Special Courts were established under the Scheme of FTSCs, including 418 POCSO courts to deal with Rape and POCSO cases. Providing quicker justice to survivors.
It was also told in the Parliament that, based on the evaluation of the Gram Nyayalayas scheme undertaken by DMEO, NITI Aayog through M/s KPMG Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd. in 2019, the Scheme of Gram Nyayalayas has been extended from 2021-22 to 2025-26 along with the extension of Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the development of infrastructure facilities for judiciary with a financial outlay of Rs 50 crore for Gram Nyayalayas.
Rs 5357 crores will be allocated (Central Scheme) for Centrally-Sponsored Scheme, subject to the condition that a review be undertaken after one year to assess whether Gram Nyayalayas Scheme has successfully achieved its objectives.