`UPA committed to secure judicial independence`
New Delhi: Against the backdrop of government deciding to retain a controversial clause in a bill on judicial standards which debars judges from making verbal comments against any constitutional authority, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar today said UPA was committed to secure judicial independence.
"The UPA government remains committed to and pledges itself to secure the foundations of the rule of law and judicial independence - integral components of the non-negotiable basic structure of the Constitution," he said.
His remarks at the Law Day function in Supreme Court came a week after he said that the clause will be retained "in some form" in the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session on March 30 amid din over the Telangana issue.
Following stiff opposition by eminent jurists and the higher judiciary, government had agreed to have a relook at the clause even as it decided against tabling it in Rajya Sabha in the Monsoon session.
The clause prohibits judges from making "unwarranted comments against conduct of any constitutional or statutory authority or statutory bodies or statutory institutions or any chairperson or member or officer thereof, or on the matters which are pending or likely to arise for judicial determination."
Kumar`s predecessor Salman Khurshid had said that he would "go back to the Cabinet" with Bill with some "minor amendments."
He said the amendments were more like cleaning up of text and were more "cosmetic" in nature.
Addressing the function, Kumar said the task of ensuring that country`s republican charter remains a "living Constitution" stands entrusted to superior judiciary, more particularly to the Supreme Court.
"The great judges of this Court have not shirked from shifting their attention from word play to the facts of life.
"Through a balancing of pretending constitutional absolutes, the court has preserved the fine constitutional balance within which the three organs of the state are required to work...The promise of the Constitution would have remained a dead letter but for the higher judiciary...," he said.
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