Don’t Junk The Collegium System Only Because Of A Few Dubious Judges
Beni M. Chatterji, Senior Advocate
The author, an eminent Senior Advocate and tax expert, candidly concedes that the non-transparent Collegium system has its defects because while a few persons of sterling character and ability have been left out from consideration, a few persons of dubious character have been appointed Judges. However, he argues that these defects can be rectified and there is no justification for compromising with the independence of the judiciary
Executive and Judiciary are up for collision course or there is any possibility of mutual understanding to solve this monumental constitutional crisis?
This crisis has mainly occurred due to few wrong choices for elevation which resulted in some judges with sterling character and ability having been left out from promotion and few very ordinary ones with doubtful characters have made their place in higher judiciary.
In my opinion this alone cannot be a reason for the executive to sneak in the process of selection of judges for higher judiciary.
The free and impartial judiciary means total liberty of presiding judges to try, hear and decide the matters which are placed before them. This will be seriously compromised if executive gets in the selection of judges for higher judiciary. The independence of judiciary has been zealously protected by the constitution and any attack on it will be an attack on the democracy. Judicial review is basic structure, whereas free judiciary is the essential feature and assurance of faith enshrined in constitution.
As per the Supreme Court in Kartar Singh Matter (1994) 3 SCC 569
“The Independence is not limited to insulating the judges from executive pressure alone, its sphere extends to many other impeccable zones of pressure or prejudices.”
Tinkering with the well established procedure of collegium system will be a grave mistake and will hugely compromise impartiality and independence of judiciary which is the mandate of constitution.
No doubt some doubtful elements have sneaked in the higher judiciary but the collegium system has also given outstanding judges with sterling performance and impeccable characters.
I am, therefore, of strong opinion that with some appropriate corrections, the collegium system should be retained.
Shri Narendra Modi, Mr. Arun Jetley and Mr. Ravishankar Prasad are known advocates of the independence of judiciary, therefore, it is all the more expected from them that they will insulate the judiciary from all kinds of pressure and prejudices.
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