New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) In the wake of an Allahabad High Court judge terming the Supreme Collegium as a system fraught with favouritism and opaqueness, legal luminaries have sought a law to regulate the appointment of judges.
The letter by Justice Rang Nath Pandey of Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow Bench to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaks volumes about the collegium system, which he considered is marred with bias and blatantly undermines the merit in the appointment of Judges.
Justice Pandey favours the Centre’s step to create a National Judicial Service Commission (NJAC), which he terms as a “hope of transparency”. However, the NJAC Act was struck down by the Supreme Court.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar speaking to IANS said: “I absolutely agree with Justice Pandey’s view on NJAC, in fact, I support his opinion. The collegium system certainly needs transparency.” He also added the apex court incorrectly termed NJAC as an affront on the judiciary’s independence.
Justice Pandey alleged judges are recommended by the collegium on factors such as favouritism, which he said was very unfortunate. In a sharp criticism of the Collegium system, justice Pandey alleged the selection of the High Court and Supreme Court judges is deliberated in closed chambers “over a cup of tea and on the basis of favouritism and lobbying”, which eventually clouds the unbiased approach of the judiciary on the judicial work concerned.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh speaking to IANS said: “The government should enact a separate law to regulate the Supreme Court collegium system and ensure transparency in the appointment of judges.”
He further insisted that the image of judiciary is taking a hit in the eyes of the common people, specifically after the emergence of Justice Pandey’s letter to the PM detailing the bias in the judiciary in connection with appointment of judges.
Justice Pandey stated the opaqueness of the process in connection with the appointment, and the names of future judges are made public only after the entire process is completed. This practice of keeping the procedure secret actually violates the principles of the transparency.
Senior advocate and former Secretary Delhi Bar Council, Puneet Mittal said: “The factor of transparency in the Collegium already exists, as the minutes of the discussion are uploaded on the apex court website.”
Mittal said the top court already turned down the NJAC, which it termed in violation of the Constitution’s basic structure and also in breach of the principle of separation of powers, and not guaranteeing superiority to the judiciary in the appointment of judges.
Rakesh Khanna, President Supreme Court Bar Association, did not comment on the matter. Similarly, Manan Mishra, Chairman, Bar Council of India, was not available for comment.
Justice Pandey in his letter letter urged the Prime Minister to establish a system which favours the people from ordinary background, and allow them to move up the ladder to become the Chief Justice of India, with hard work and determination.
Justice Pandey also pointed out apex court’s inner conflicts coming out into public domain.