CPI(M) pleads for all-encompassing Judicial Commmission

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New Delhi, Mar 12 (UNI) A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lent his full support to judicial reforms, the CPI(M) today demanded that the proposed National Judicial Commission be not limited to the appointment of judges alone, but rather a broad-based mechanism be evolved to encompass the settlement of the huge backlog of pending cases and to provide protection to witnesses.

'' For years together, we have been pleading for judicial reforms and impressed the government to either amend or bring in a new law in this regard. This task will have to be accomplished by the Parliament. We are already pressing the Government and will step up the pressure for this task,'' CPI(M) senior leader and Polit Bureau Member Sita Ram Yechury told newspersons at the end of the party 3-day deliberations here.

Mr Yechury, the party stalwart and Rajya Sabha MP, said the deliberations also focused on the party' s strategy for the forthcoming polls to five Assemblies. Elaborating, he said, the party will finalise the Chief Ministerial candidate for Kerala after the polls while it was poised to come back to power in West Bengal where the names of the party candidates have already been announced.

On Asom, he said the talks were going on with the like-minded parties to build a non-BJP, non-Congress Third Front.

The deliberations assumed special significance in the backdrop of not only the Assembly polls but also the growing differences between the UPA Government and the Left over its pro-US tilt in foreign affairs and pursuing discredited economic policies of the NDA regime.

" A formal press briefing will be held tomorrow afternoon on the discussions at the one-day 18-member Polit Bureau Meeting, followed by two-day 85-member Central Committee meeting held at the party headquarters A K Gopalan Bhavan,'' he said. Prominent among those who participated in the deliberations were party general secretary Prakash Karat, the veteran H S Surjeet, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattarcharjee, Left Democratic Front chairman Biman Das, senior leaders- Brinda Karat, MK Pandhe, Nilotpal Basu, Basudeb Acharia and WR Varadarajan Mr Yechury said the moot question was who will judge the judges and what kind of mechanism should be evolved to deal with the issues while keeping in mind the status and prestige of the judges.

" We are not questioning the authority of the judges but we are discussing about the question of infallibility of the judges,'' he said, adding that'' in the recent times, the high-profile accused were acquitted because of the witnesses turning hostile.'' In the Jessica Lal case, all the nine accused were acquitted recently because of the witnesses turning hostile, leading to a public outcry and inviting the wrath of all the political paries and the intellectuals, social activists and the common people.

Dr Manmohan Singh yesterday while calling for a reflection on the judicial system said,'' The manner in which some cases are being prosecuted, particularly where cases fall because witnesses turn hostile or change their evidence, is causing concern to ever-increasing sections of society.'' When reminded about the party decision to analyse and assess the performance of the 20-month Congress-led UPA Government, the CPI (M) leader simply said,'' No discussion took place on this subject.'' The CPI has already reviewed the Government's performance, finding it wanting on matters of foreign affairs and economic policies even as it complimented it for certain positive achievements like the enactment of National Rural Employent Guarantee Scheme, Right to Information Act, the launching of the Bharat Nirman and National Rural Health Mission among other issues.

UNI KSA RP KN1540

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