NEW DELHI: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely, on Friday, again criticised the Supreme Court’s judgment on the struck-down National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and said that independence of judiciary was the most important thing but it should come with credibility as well.
Speaking at the National Debate on NJAC, Jaitely said, “With this decision the Supreme Court has adopted a procedure like Gymkhana clubs members appoint their own members every year, which is not only opaque but also not credible. Credibility of the (judicial) institution in question today.”
Countering Jaitely, former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha who was in favour of the judgement said, “Judiciary has to be insulated from executive class. Since 1993, 210 appointments were made by the collegium system and none was faulty. So the procedure adopted by the collegium is fool-proof and passes various tests before an appointee is finalised.”
The Finance Minister then drew reference to what happens in other countries with regard to the appointment of judges and said, “No country, except India, has a system where judges appoint judges.”
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan responded saying, “Indian democracy is unique in its own way and it can’t be compared with any other country for following the judges’ appointment process.”
Dhavan agreed that there was a design fault in the present NJAC and said, “National Judicial Appointments Commission is a six- member panel, what will one do if there is a three by three system? That’s the design fault.”
Former CJI Lodha said that though the present collegium system was opaque, he looked forward to the Supreme Court hearing on November 3, in which the court invited suggestions from people to improve the system.