New Delhi [India], March 18 (ANI): Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Saturday said no system is perfect but the Collegium system for appointment of judges “is the best that we have developed” and that it was devised as independence of judiciary is a cardinal value.
Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2023, the CJI also responded to queries about Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s remarks about Collegium making public reports of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as it turned down the government’s objections to its recommendation for appointment of judges.
The CJI said that the processes for appointment of judges are now becoming transparent.
“We follow a model of career judges coming either to the High Court from the district judiciary or judges coming from the High Court to the Supreme Court. We of course have members of the bar as well coming to the Supreme Court as to the High Courts. Let me emphasize two facets. There is a transparency which operates at two levels. Transparency of the process of appointment, and transparency in the terms of the choices that you make when you are appointing people. The process has to be completely transparent,” he said.
“And that is why in the recent times, we have putting out on to our website the Collegium resolutions which tell the society at large, our citizens, what are the parameters we have applied in the selection of judges. Let them judge, let them critique us. I am not saying that any system is perfect, but this is the best that we have developed. Why was this Collegium system devised? It was devised for the simple reason that the independence of the judiciary is a cardinal value and you know to insulate the judiciary from outside influences if the judiciary has to truly be independent. That is the underlined feature and purpose of the Collegium,” he added.
The CJI said the Collegium puts out resolutions so that people know about the selections.
“Our processes are now becoming transparent. We have defined what the parameters are. We put out resolutions on the website so that people know whom we have selected, why have we done so and what are the yardsticks that we have applied,” he said.
Answering a query about Rijiju’s remarks that putting the sensitive or secret reports of RAW and IB in public domain is a matter of grave concern, the CJI said there is bound to be difference in perceptions.
“He has a perception, I have a perception. There is bound to be difference in perceptions. What’s wrong about having a difference in perceptions? We have to deal with differences in perceptions even within the judiciary. I dare say there are differences in perception even within the government. But we all deal with it with a sense of robust constitutional statesmanship.
First and foremost, I don’t want to join the issue with the Law Minister for his perception, I respect his perception. I’m sure he has a great deal of respect for ours as well. The reason why we put this on the website is in pursuance of the desire of the present collegium to meet the criticism that we lack transparency and a genuine belief that opening up our processes will foster greater confidence in our citizens about the work which we do,” the CJI said.
“Every aspect that was mentioned in the report of the IB was in the public domain. The candidate (senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal) that you are referring to, every aspect that was mentioned in the report of the Intelligence Bureau was in the public domain. The candidate in question is open about his sexual orientation. The IB report dwelt on the sexual orientation of an openly gay candidate for a prospective judgeship. All that we said while putting it out in the public domain is that the sexual orientation of a candidate has nothing to do with the ability or the constitutional entitlement of that candidate to assume a high Constitutional office,” he added.
Answering queries on independence of judiciary, the CJI said no one has ever told him to decide a case in a particular way.
“In 23 years as a judge of the high court, chief justice of a high court and judge of the Supreme Court, no one has told me to decide a case in a particular way. No one,” CJI Chandrachud said.
“There is absolutely no pressure from the government. The Election Commission judgment is an example of this that there is no pressure. Over the last 70 years, our democracy has developed very clear and defining lines of separation between the executive and the judiciary. There is absolutely no issue, we are constantly holding the government to account, the courts are speaking truth to power and I don’t think governments are also concerned about it as long as they know their field of demarcation and we know ours,” the CJI said.
He also talked about the impact of live tweeting of court observations.
“There is live tweeting of every word said in court. That puts an enormous amount of burden on us as well. In our courts, most of the argument which takes place is dialogue between the bar and the bench. It’s a conversation. We intercept each other, we joke, we have serious arguments, so on and so forth. What is expressed during the hearing is not the expression of the ultimate view which the judges are going to take,” he said.
The CJI said the language of discourse in higher courts is English, but the courts need to reach out to people in a language they understand. (ANI)