Law ministry open to ‘course correction’ on Quattrocchi: Moily

NEW DELHI - Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily Friday promised to see “if any course correction is required” in his ministry’s decision during the tenure of his predecessor H.R. Bhardwaj to recommend taking fugitive Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi’s name off the Interpol’s ‘most wanted’ list.

“We will look into if any course correction is required to be taken,” said Moily in response to a query by IANS if he will undo the controversial decision the law ministry had taken during his predecessor H.R. Bhardwaj’s tenure on Quattrocchi.

The new law minister made the promise while interacting with reporters after taking charge of the ministry.

During the fag end of his tenure as law minister in the previous government, Bhardwaj had recommended taking Quattrocchi’s name off the Interpol’s ‘most wanted’ list saying his case had become an embarrassment for India.

Quattrocchi is a prime suspect in the case of alleged payoff in the Bofors gun purchase deal during the 1980s.

“Next five years would be an era of legal and judicial reforms,” said Moily, who headed the Administrative Reform Committee during the previous government.

Making it clear that he was set to implement many of his recommendations as the administrative reform committee chairman, Moily underlined judicial reforms as his ministry’s priority. “It cannot be done in a partial or fragmented way. It has to be done in a holistic approach.”

He pointed out that to usher in various reforms, one “does not necessarily have to undertake constitutional amendments or substantial changes in laws”.

Many of the issues of legal and judicial reforms boils down to the issue of mere good governance, Moily said.

“Everything is equal under the rule of law, but how to make it equal for everybody would be the priory of the law ministry (through the legal reforms ushered by it).”

Referring to the huge backlog of cases pending at various levels of India’s three-tier judiciary, Moily said: “The last man in the queue should be able to get justice without delay.”

Stating that “it should not be the case of ‘justice delayed, justice denied’”, Moily said: “The aam admi (common man) should not feel orphaned.”

He said he would also look into a set of comprehensive proposals on electoral reforms the Election Commission of India had sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2004 and now pending with the union law ministry.

“Various issues of electoral reforms would also be a priority area of the ministry.”

Evading a direct reply to the question if the government would initiate impeachment proceedings against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court as per the recommendations of Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, Moily said: “The government has no vested interest in protecting the corrupt, whether inside or outside the judiciary.”

He added: “The matter is pending with the Rajya Sabha.”

On a question whether the ministry would consider piloting a law to make disclosures of assets by the judges of the higher judiciary mandatory, Moily said: “We will consult the judges, take them into confidence and amend the law, if necessary.”


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