Saturday, May 23, 2009

Law Minister

I was disappointed to hear that Mr. Bharadwaj will be sworn in again as a Minister. Hopefully he will not be given the Law Ministry. One of the UPA's government major failures in the last term has been the dismal performance of the Law Ministry. Some of the key failures are

1. No major initiative in speeding up the justice delivery system, despite several proposals. Although the NDA government also had several failures on this count, one of the few things they can be credited with is the establishment of fast track courts and the CPC Amendment.

2. The failure of the criminal justice system to render justice came into spotlight in several cases, but no major initiatives was taken to reform the system

3.Mr. Bharadwaj played a key role in the appointment of an Attorney General who was a spectacular failure by all accounts. Not only Mr Banerjee did not appear in any leading cases, he gave an allegedly "collusive opinion" in the Quattorochi episode. Mr Dhavan was right in pointing out that if action is taken is taken on the basis of the law officer's opinion, such opinion should be published.

4. Interference in the functioning of investigating agencies.

5. There is justifiable basis to question the integrity of the Law Minister when a Law Officer specifically sent to defreeze the accounts of a person who has been escaping from Indian justice system.

    Indian justice delivery system needs a structural reform and for that to happen we need a Law Minister who has the experience, capability and the vision. Sadly Mr. Bharadwaj was found wanting on all counts.

    9 comments:

    Perakath said...

    What about the recent CrPC Amendment Bill that caused a mini-furore?

    Who would you propose as a replacement Law Minister to Mr Bharadwaj?

    tarunabh said...

    i haven't seen any news reports suggesting that he is coming back, but if he is, this is bad news indeed. his was a completely lacklustre performance in a ministry that can do with someone more competent and energetic. the entire legal infrastructure of the country needs strengthening, but the minister mostly played his little games in the last term. his ministry's retrogressive stand in the gay rights case highlights the need for fresh ideas. he even backtracked on the progressive CrPC amendments after parliament had enacted them. the prime minister would be making a big mistake in inviting him to head the ministry once again. his place is in some gubernatorial residence with the likes of arjun singh, and not in the cabinet with people like kapil sibal and pranav mukherjee. i still hope the media will make enough noise in the next few days to make sure he is not inducted (the indian express has had a few critical editorials suggesting he be left out - is the PM listening?)

    Madhav Khosla said...

    It will really be unfortunate if Mr. Bharadwaj is back. I did read some reports, however, indicating that the law ministry may go to Kapil Sibal or Veerappa Moily. If so, that would be good news. As Vivek and Tarunabh note, a radical overhaul of the judicial system is necessary; in particular, we really need more courts and far more funding for the lower judiciary. I was disappointed to see how the issue of judicial reform has found such little mention during these elections. I can understand it not being voiced by politicians as it is perhaps not an election issue, but one hoped that at least within the academic and intellectual discourse it would have been given greater importance.

    arun said...

    It would have been a pleasure if you guys could have put up a small list of candidates with their merits and demerits.As keen watchers of Indian legal scene, you are in a strong position to do that. Abhishek Singhvi has defended Congress Party's position on CrPC in recent past. He seems to be more persuasive too. Probably he will make a better law minister than Kapil Sibbal.

    Red said...

    The Express does a pretty scathing review of him here http://www.indianexpress.com/news/h.-r.-bhardwaj-71-minister-of-law/463830/0

    Given that the Congress party is choc a bloc with lawyers, one hopes they can find someone better suited to run this ministry. Ditto for Attorney General

    K.V.DHANANJAY said...

    Mr.Bharadwaj, with dues respects, is simply unsuitable for the job of a 'law minister'.

    As I see it, theres nobody in the 'sworn in' or the proposed cabinet who is good enough for the job.

    How about a suggestion to the Central Government to leave it vacant than to compulsively nominate some weakling for the job? I think, its time that the Central Government declare that they cannot recruit a suitable 'law minister' for want of supply!

    Red said...

    Veerappa Moily's name seems to be doing the rounds. Has anyone been following the Administrative Law Reform Commission?

    tarunabh said...

    another IE editorial on law ministry (and HRD): http://www.indianexpress.com/news/reform-reloaded/465793/0

    tarunabh said...

    ok, it seems that baradwaj is finally and decidedly out of the cabinet. that is good news, but we still dont know who the law minister will be.

    at a broader level, i think this protracted ministry formation has been good. usually the team is announced the very next day, without any democratic scrutiny and debate that has taken place this time around. compare it with the US system where the president-elect has two months to put together a team, with democratic inputs. we might have dmk to thank for it, but hopefully the process of delayed ministry formation will be institutionalised.