COIMBATORE:There are divergent views of retired judges on the Supreme Court’s decision to invite public opinion to improve the collegium system of appointing judges.
Not just that, there seems to be no consensus among the judges themselves, who while reluctant to support the formation of a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), also want the higher judiciary to be held accountable, and to have a more fair and accountable system of appointing judges.
Speaking to Express, Justice K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, said, “The decision of the Supreme Court to invite public view on the subject is a joke, as the Supreme Court bench had itself ruled that the recommendations from Parliamentarians elected by the public were ‘unconstitutional’.” “When the Court says that the Bill by people’s representatives themselves is unlawful, how can recommendations by the people have any effect? Asking the people is equal to asking people’s representatives,” he said.
He also called for a referendum where the public can decide whether they want the collegium system or the NJAC. “They (the SC judges) have decided that the NJAC will not work. However, it is only a hypothesis by the court,” he added.
However, another retired Sessions Court judge differed with Justice Chandru. The judge said that the Apex Court had struck down the Act as “it violated the Constitution and infringed on the Judiciary’s independence.”
“Furthermore, in order to have public consensus on the matter, the Supreme Court had in addition, asked the people to give their opinion. Hence, it would take on board suggestions that fits within the Constitutional framework,” he said.
Other retired judges said that the judiciary needed to have a more transparent system of functioning and appointing judges to the higher courts, while also being independent from political influences.
They said that the judges could consider getting recommendations from senior lawyers and apolitical bodies, before deciding to promote a judge to the higher rungs of the judiciary.