New Delhi:  A day after the Chief Justice of India cautioned the government against tinkering with the independence of judiciary, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said judicial freedom was paramount and a proposed law on judicial accountability will not undermine it.

He said after CJI S H Kapadia made the remarks on Wednesday, "I had also said in my intervention that it is not accountability to undermine (judicial) independence, but accountability to enhance independence. Independence remains paramount and we are very clear about it."

Khurshid, who was present at the function attended by the CJI, said while the words may be different, there is no divergence of views on independence of judiciary. "I believe it (judiciary) is an important pillar of our Constitution," he told reporters outside the Parliament House.

He was asked to comment on the remarks of the CJI.

Justice Kapadia had said, "The government may make law for making judges accountable. We are not afraid of that. But it should not tinker with the very constitutional principle of judicial independence".

Speaking on the occasion of Independence Day celebrations in the Supreme Court, he had urged the Government that while bringing law, it should not lose sight of the concept of judicial independence.

Justice Kapadia was apparently referring to the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill which had already been passed by Lok Sabha and is pending in Rajya Sabha.

A controversial clause in the Bill states: "No judge shall make unwarranted comments against the conduct of any constitutional or statutory institution or officials at the time of hearing matters in open courts during the course of hearing matters."

Khurshid has already said that he would go back to the Cabinet to remove the clause.

"If we are doing something good, we should not lose its sheen by even a marginal controversial provision," the minister had said earlier this month.


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