NEW DELHI:The Chief Justice of India has defended the two-decade old collegium system of appointing judges and said that it was a foolproof system which enables us to weed out the corrupt as well.
The Supreme Court’s observation came while hearing a plea challenging the elevation of a district judge as a judge of the High Court and the CJI said, “Life of judges has become miserable.” The petitioner had questioned the integrity of the judge, to which the bench, while dismissing the plea, said the ‘collegium system had enough checks to weed out corrupt’.
Chief Justice H L Dattu said that ‘it was a chronic habit with some of the lawyers in every high court to file anonymous complaints repeatedly against a judge. These advocates who file the complaint are well aware that a judge remains defenceless against such complaints and thus they continue throwing bricks at the judges in the cloak of anonymity.”
“The High Court collegium first scrutinizes a person’s integrity before recommending appointment as a judge of the High Court. It then gets placed before the Supreme Court collegium which seeks a thorough inquiry into the recommended person’s integrity from the Intelligence Bureau,” said the bench.
“After the SC collegium recommends the name for appointment as a judge of the HC, the Law Ministry seeks a separate report from the IB. If the Law Ministry also misses the blemishes in the person, then he is really lucky to get appointed as a HC judge,” the bench added.
The Central government had earlier this year notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), replacing the collegium system. The court had reserved its judgment on the plea challenging formation of NJAC and extended the interim order on tenure of additional judges of High Courts till the pronouncement of judgment in the case.
checks and balances
➤ HC collegium scrutinises a person’s integrity before recommending his/her appointment as a HC judge
➤ It’s then placed before SC collegium which seeks thorough IB inquiry; after it recommends name for appointment as a HC judge, Law Ministry seeks separate report from IB
➤ If ministry misses blemish about the person, then he/she is lucky to get appointed as a HC judge