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Report No. 114

5.16. Authority and power to select the panel.-

The approach in selecting such an authority which would select a person to be vested with judicial power of the State should be such an authority as would be immune to external pressures as far as possible. The authority should have the paraphernelia to collect correct antecedents of the proposed persons. One view was that such a panel should be drawn up by the Collector, S.D.O., M.L.A., etc. and it should be finalised by the District & Sessions Judge. Another view was that because of the frequent transfers of District Magistrates, and District Judges, they would not be in the know of detailed antecedents of a person proposed to be nominated. For this reason, the previous District Magistrate and District Judge should be associated if the present incumbent of the post has been in-charge for less than six months.

One of the learned Judges of the High Court responded who to the Working Paper has remarked that the panel of lay Judges should be finalised by the District Judge alone. He may consult the Taluka level Judges, Chief Judicial Magistrate, District Magistrate, etc. in doing so; but he should have the final say in the matter since the District Magistrates are invariably Collectors or Deputy Commissioners and may not be able to act on their own. He suggested that there is no need to provide for the approval of laymen's panels by the High Court because this will cause delay and increase the bureaucratic work.

Instead, the High Court should have a power of revision of the panel which should be exercised by it suo motu or on a complaint. Another learned Judge suggested that the District Judge should alone draw up a panel after taking into consideration such names as may be suggested by the District Magistrate. He apprehended that the political influence on the District Magistrates cannot be ignored and if political influence is likely to be exercised, then the evils disfiguring the elected Nyaya Panchayats are likely to percolate into the new scheme.

Having analysed in depth various suggestions, the Commission is of the opinion that interaction of District Magistrate and District & Sessions Judge would reasonably ensure a panel of competent persons free from political caste, communal, religious or parochial considerations. Therefore, a selection committee of District Magistrate and District Judge of the concerned district should be constituted in each district for this purpose. To begin with, District Magistrate and District Judge should separately draw up a panel upto a number far exceeding the minimum required. Thereafter, they must exchange their panels. A few days after, they must assemble, interact and finalise the panel. The panel of laymen should, as far as possible, be an agreed one, failing which the District Magistrate and the District & Sessions Judge may recommend their separate lists and also their objections to the names suggested by other member of the selection committee.

The entire panel whether it is drawn up on consensus, or partly agreed or wholly separate should be submitted to the Chief Justice of the High Court having jurisdiction. The Chief Justice, in consultation with two of his colleagues, shall finalise the panel. It would be open to him to call for additional information about the persons figuring in the panel or separate lists submitted by the members of the selection committee. The selection must be confined to the residents of the District. While preparing a panel a member of the selection body, may have recourse to his subordinates to collect the antecedents of the proposed persons. The members of the selection body should have first hand information, as far as possible, through authentic sources enabling checking of the antecedents of the persons proposed by one member or by the other member of the selection committee.

It is imperative that the person to be selected must satisfy the criteria hereinafter prescribed. It would be open to the members of the selection committee to have discussions with non-political social workers or officers of social service organisations in the district. Care should be taken to provide representation to residents of various talukas/tehsils comprised in the district. Adequate representation should be ensured to members, other weaker sections of the society, members of SC/ST, women and backward classes. Panel members must represent the cross-section of village community.



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