Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi s silence on pending appointment of judges in his Independence Day speech, the Congress on Monday accused him of delaying the matter and that he wants a "captive and not an independent judiciary".
Shortly after Chief Justice of India T S Thakur expressed his disappointment that the prime minister did not make any mention about delayed judicial appointments in his address, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said Modi in his 90-minute speech should have spared at least one minute to talk about the crisis situation on account of a number of judicial vacancies.
Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala accused Modi of stalling judicial appointments to foist a captive judiciary on the country. He said Modi should heed the CJI’s advice and not do petty politics on the issue.
Surjewala told reporters that Memorandum of Appointment of Judges is deliberately not being cleared by Modi because the prime minister wants a "captive judiciary and not an independent judiciary" and this indeed is alarming on the 70th Independence Day of the country.
He also tweeted, "CJI questions PM Modi for deafening silence on judicial logjam in his I-Day speech. Unprecedented yet starkly true."
"1.25 Billion Indians demand a solemn commitment to a fair justice system on I-Day Modi Ji! Please heed CJI’s advice. No petty politics.
"75 names of HC judges cleared by SC stalled; Memorandum of Appointing Judges thwarted. Deliberate obstruction of justice by an obstinate PM," he said in a series of tweets.
Surjewala said it s time the PM "introspected and ensured that the judiciary, the first refuge of the common man, remains independent and does not become captive to the whims of the Prime Minister."
Sibal called for immediate clearance of pending judicial appointment files, asking who were the persons delaying the decision.
"In 90 minutes today, the PM could have spared one minute for the judiciary as we are all running at 50 per cent of the strength.
And in the light of the fact that the Supreme Court has asked the Government to respond in four weeks as to why the appointment of judges have been kept pending for eight months and who are the persons who are blocking the files It is a crisis situation and at least the PM could have spared a minute and talked about it and committed that they would do this very quickly," the former Law Minister Sibal said.
Accusing the Government of flexing its muscle on account of an absolute majority in Lok Sabha, Sibal said, "The Government thinks it has absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and is flexing its muscles."
The former minister underlined the need for early judicial appointments saying lakhs of litigants come from far off places, spend money, reach high courts but their cases are not taken up because there are not enough judges and they pay their lawyers month after month year after year.
Surjewala also made the same demand describing an independent justice system as the first edifice of democracy.
"A courageous CJI in an unprecedented move has lodged a serious protest on account of the continuing logjam on appointment f judges between the Modi government and the judiciary," he said.