Govt wants judiciary to be more independent
The government is planning some major initiatives to promote democratic political culture, make parliament effective, streamline the judiciary to make it more independent and combat corruption.
This was contained in the draft perspective plan for 2010-2021 which was placed at the cabinet meeting by the Planning Commission yesterday.
However, the recent appointments of judges in higher court and the government move to amend the anti-corruption act sparked controversy.
The perspective plan said, "There are complaints about the attempts at politicisation of higher level of the judiciary, especially through judicial appointments."
It said the process of appointments in higher level of the judiciary could be revamped through open parliamentary hearing where members of the parliamentary committee concerned could question aspirants for such posts about their qualifications, and fitness.
The process of appointments should be so designed that the media also could raise questions about the aspirants' suitability.
Appointments of judges often gave rise to controversy. The present government appointed 17 judges in the High Court but following objection from the Supreme Court Bar Association, the chief justice refrained from swearing in two of them.
The plan also envisages that incidents of judges' feeling "'embarrassed", whereby they avoid trying certain cases, will be reviewed and provisions made to record the reasons for feeling embarrassed.
It said to expedite justice in the rural areas, an alternative dispute resolution mechanism will be set up under the supervision of judicial magistrates. Retired magistrates, reputed senior officials, headmasters of schools and others who command respect in the rural society could be asked to help resolve conflicts through these pre-trial courts through negotiations.
To promote democratic culture, a party constitution should provide for election of office bearers of the party at all levels. "The nomination process for elective offices, particularly parliament, will enshrine a political convention and/or primary elections, " the plan said.
"Information on sources of funding and all financial accounts of the political parties shall be subject to regular scrutiny of the Election Commission, which shall be made independent, strong and impartial not only by law but also by its exuding an impression of independence and impartiality."
The perspective plan also said in case of large public purchase, wide scale corruption occurs. The large sum of funds that are provided in the development budgets could be brought under scrutiny of the civil society and media in connection with the floating and award of tenders for public infrastructures and donor financed projects.
"Public procurement should be free from endemic delays, lack of transparency and collusive practice involving the high and the mighty and the political cadres of the government party," the plan said. The government should introduce e-procurement system to stop this malpractice, it added.
"The parliament will not be used as a springboard for serving the constituency in any local level government's administrative capacity or its local development. Local development activities will be the prerogative of the elected local bodies."
The perspective plan further said to lessen the pressure of population and to promote one-child family, the government may take the responsibility of all education expenses and medical treatment of a child from a couple having one child. The parents of single child will be given social pension, if necessary.