With Lok Sabha elections due next year, newly appointed Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday said he would strive to achieve objectives in the run up, including making legal procedures help fuel economic growth and appointment of judges through a transparent process.
Outlining his "broad objectives," Sibal said, "Legal processes and procedures should not be an impediment to economic growth, but must fuel it."
He said simplification and transparency of legal processes and procedures were necessary to achieve this objective.
Sibal, who assumed the additional charge of the law ministry on Monday morning, also said appointment of judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court should be a through a transparent process which ensures that persons of impeccable integrity and high competence are appointed.
Referring to the legal procedures to boost economic growth, sources later said they could be achieved through not only laws, but also by simplifying procedures and subordinate legislations to reduce hurdles.
They said a dialogue will be initiated with various ministries, including the finance ministry, which has already flagged the issue.
On the appointment of judges through a transparent system, the sources said that a "short-term" method could be to change the present system through an "institutional dialogue".
They said the present system was opaque and the long-term method to change it was through a law.
On the issue of various law ministry legislations on judicial reforms pending in Parliament, the sources said if the Opposition agrees, then the government will move ahead. Otherwise, it will wait for a consensus to emerge.
A proposal to change the present Collegium system for appointment of judges was pending with the Union Cabinet.
They also said appointment of more judges to reduce pendency of cases was not possible in a short time and a policy would have to be evolved on a long-term basis to achieve the objective.
Sibal is soon expected to lay out a roadmap of detailed objectives which can be achieved in one year.
Thanking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi for assigning him the new responsibility, Sibal said with one year to go for the next Lok Sabha elections, he would do his best to successfully carry out the responsibility in the "short time".
He said more needs to be done in the field of legal education in terms of quality, to bring it to international standards. "The legal fraternity must be an active participant in this regard," he said.
The minister said the processes of law must be quick and non-discriminatory. "We need to strengthen confidence of the people in our judicial system...the rule of law is the foundation of civil society. The guilty must not go unpunished and the innocent must not be harassed," he added.
He also said by embracing modern technology at every level of the judicial system, change can be brought about expeditiously.