Thursday, March 30, 2023

Collegium system ideal for judges appointment: Ex-CJI U U Lalit

Supreme Court

New Delhi, March 18: Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit Saturday said the collegium was the “ideal system” for appointment of judges to the top court and high courts in the country.
His comments come in the backdrop of Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju raising questions over the collegium system.
Justice Lalit, who demitted office as the 49th CJI on November 8, 2022, also said judiciary was completely independent of the executive and while the Supreme Court was “fantastic”, there is “tremendous area for improvement”.
Speaking at the India Today Conclave, Justice Lalit emphasised that the collegium system enables selection of judges by a body which is reviewing performances at the “grass-root” and the process of recommendation by the apex court body is through a consultative route.
While recommending a judge, not only is performance but the opinion of other judges as well as IB report is also considered in the process and a new regime of appointment can only be “put in place in a manner known to law”, he said.
“According to me, collegium system is the ideal system… You have persons whose entire profile is seen by the high court. Not by 1-2 persons but by repeatedly as an institution. Similarly, advocates who practice before high courts; the judges who form the body, they see their performances every day. So who are supposed to be better positioned to see merit of the talent? Somebody sitting as an executive here or somebody who is seeing the grass root level performance, say in Kochi or Manipur or Andhra or Ahmedabad?” he said.
Justice Lalit asserted that the “system is geared to have best possible talent” and not all recommendations from the high courts are accepted as for the duration that he formed part of the collegium as “judge no.2”, while 255 judges were appointment, 70-80 proposed names from high courts were “rejected” and around 40 names” were “still under consideration by the government”.
“We see the judgments. we see the kind of performance over a period of time. It is after that that the five judges of the Supreme Court then consider whether the man is worthy or not. At the same time, we are guided by the advice given by what we call the consultee judges… At the same time, the version coming from the executive. It may have something from the profile of the man.
“There may be some kind of complaint or some dark corner in the persona which we are not aware of. So that part of the consultation through IB report is also placed before us. It is after that the decision is taken,” Justice Lalit said.
The former CJI also maintained that it was not the collegium which faltered on non-appointment of senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High Court and the fault lied elsewhere. “Collegium did not falter on Saurabh Kirpal’s case. The collegium did make a recommendation, collegium did reiterate. So how do you say collegium system is bad? The fault lies somewhere else, if at all,” he stated. (PTI)