Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Saturday (March 18) defended the Collegium system of judges’ appointment, a month after his predecessor Justice (Retd) UU Lalit did the same.
“Not every system is perfect but this is the best system we have developed,” CJI Chandrachud said at the India Today Conclave, 2023. The Collegium system of judges appointing judges is a major bone of contention between the government and the judiciary.
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The CJI said judiciary must be protected from outside influences if it has to be independent. “The object was to protect the independence of the judiciary, which is a cardinal value. We have to insulate the judiciary from outside influences if the judiciary has to be independent,” he stated.
Justice (Retd) Lalit, speaking at an event organised by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) on Judicial Appointments and Reforms last month, had said that the Collegium system is a “fool-proof” and “near-perfect” model.
“Difference in perception” with Rijiju
CJI Chandrachud also responded to Law Minister Kiren Rijiju voicing displeasure over the Supreme Court Collegium, revealing the government’s reasons for not approving the names recommended by it for appointment as judges of constitutional courts.
“What is wrong about having a difference in perception? But, I have to deal with such differences with a sense of robust constitutional statesmanship. I do not want to join issues with the law minister; we are bound to have differences of perceptions,” the CJI said.
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Rijiju has been quite vocal against the Collegium system and once even called it “alien to our Constitution”.
“No govt pressure on deciding cases”
However, CJI Chandrachud said there is absolutely no pressure from the government on how to decide cases.
“In my 23 years of being a judge, no one has told me how to decide a case. There is absolutely no pressure from the government. The Election Commission judgment is proof that there is no pressure on the judiciary,” CJI said.
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The Supreme Court recently ruled that the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and election commissioners will be done by the President upon the advice of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.
(With agency inputs)