In a shocking revelation, Justice J Chelameswar has ripped into the Chief Justice of India headed collegium and has called it, “most opaque.”
A letter written by the fifth most senior judge has called for recording the minutes of confidential meetings held to discuss appointments and transfers of judges. As reported by Times of India, the judge said that he has stopped attending collegium meetings because of the lack of transparency and stifling of opinions by the “majority.” He also raised questions over the candidature and selection of judges.
Interestingly he was the only judge who had favoured doing away with the collegium system when a five-judge Constitution Bench, in October 2015, struck down an amendment to validate the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act.
It is also reported by The New Indian Express, that he had written a letter to the CJI, apprising the latter of his decision not to attend future meetings of the collegium. He has not, however, recused from the collegium. Justice Chelameswar has clarified that the recommendations being made by the other four judges, including the CJI, should come to him “by circulation”. This effectively means that the other four judges should put their recommendations in writing and then send it to Justice Chelameswar for his views.
This letter is bound to escalate the fallout between judiciary and the government as they both remains embattled in a bitter face-off over the delay in appointment of judges.
Sources close to Justice Chelameswar said the judge has decided, for now, not to make public the contents of the three-page letter written to the CJI. “In the interest of the institution and to maintain institutional correctitude, the judge is not going to make the content public at this stage. However, if the situation so demands, he may consider doing so in future,” sources said.