press trust of india
New Delhi, 3 July
There is no need for changing either the present collegium system of appointing judges to the higher judiciary or the impeachment provisions in the Constitution, says Chief Justice of India designate Justice P Sathasivam.
The judiciary, however, is open to any beneficial suggestions or measures to improve the present system of appointment, he adds, while dismissing the criticism that it is not transparent and that the government has no role in it.
While agreeing with the government that it was not in a position to “select” the judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court, Justice Sathasivam feels the only way the system can be changed is for the government to seek a review of its two crucial judgements in this regard, or to go for a constitutional amendment.
He admits that there is corruption in the judiciary, like in other organs of the State, but “it is negligible”. Strongly defending the Constitution&’s impeachment provisions, he says there is a need for the protection of judges in higher judiciary from flimsy complaints and attempts at removal.
But he admits there is a lacuna in the in-house mechanism to sort out the problem of removing corrupt judges and that it would be better to improve this system to ensure that the rotten eggs are removed.
“It is not correct to say that there is no transparency and that the government has no role (in appointing judges),” Justice Sathasivam ~ who will take over as CJI on July 19 ~ said in an interview.
He was replying to a question about the government’s moves to bring laws that would give a say to the executive in selecting and appointing judges of High Courts and Supreme Court. By a judgement in 1993, the Supreme Court ushered in a collegium system of appointments that kept the government away.
Under the present system, the Chief Justice of the High Courts recommend names of prospective judges in consultation with two seniormost judges, while in the case of Supreme Court it is the CJI plus four seniormost judges.
After this, Justice Sathasivam said, the proposal goes through various channels like seeking comments from the Centre, Chief Ministers, Governors and intelligence agencies for verification, vetting and their comments.
“The Chief Minister has to give remarks, the Governor is entitled to give his opinion, the Centre gives its comments and the Intelligence Bureau does the verification of candidates, their political affinity, if any, their character,” he said.
Opinion of judges outside the collegium as well as from independent people, including eminent personalities, are also sought.
“The only grievance is that they (government) cannot select the candidates,” he said.