Nagpur: “The Supreme Court has missed a golden opportunity to make some much needed change in the appointment of judges – no one can today say that the Collegium system has much merit” said Advocate Mukesh Samarth, one of the most senior lawyers practising in Nagpur ( High Court) and also President of V Connect.
According to Advocate Samarth the Collegium System lacks transparency and there have been many instances of nepotism in the appointment of judges, specially to State High Courts.
“It is an Uncle Judge Syndrome and it must go” was the very strong opinion of Advocate Shrirang Bhandarkar, another prominent lawyer of the city.
“This decision of the Supreme Court is derogatory to our very edifice, our Parliamentary Democracy” further says Shrirang. “How can judges themselves decide on how they are to be appointed? This goes against the basic tenet of fair play and justice!” He remarks.
Both Mukesh and Adv. Shrirang feel that the Supreme Court should have given a chance to try out the NJAC system that the Government sought to put in place.
“Yes, the SC judges had some valid objections about appointment of some members to the Committee, but these differences and doubts could have been clarified and an ideal system would have evolved” points out Advocate Samarth.
Advocate Bhandarkar minces no words in denouncing the Collegium system as arbitrary, where sycophancy and nepotism flourish. ” It is a cosy club… I appoint your son, you appoint my sister/niece/ nephew…let us both be happy” is how it is working now. There is absolutely no transparency, no accountability.”
They both agree that this decision flouts the first tenet of our Democracy that states Parliament is Supreme.
In that sense they feel that the very capable and erudite bench of the Supreme Court had really no jurisdiction in overturning what has been decided by the Parliament.
“They can only look at legal flaws or omissions, they have no right to reject.”
Surprisingly while these advocates were outspoken about it, many other lawyers dissented from giving an opinion saying they haven’t had time to study it or did not ” know much about it”. Very strange!
But this is what a senior city Journalist, Alok Tiwari has said about this decision” -The supreme court judgment scrapping the national judicial appointments commission is patently wrong, as have been all the judgments that set up the so-called collegium that appoints the judges of supreme and high courts. It was never the constitutional scheme to let judges appoint other judges. It was and should be absolutely the prerogative of the executive which is answerable to the parliament. The only requirement was consultation with the chief justice. This has been totally subverted by the apex court and judicial appointments have been turned into exclusive preserve of the collegium made up only of judges.
The collegium is an incestuous system that has led to palpable fall in standards of judiciary. Also, in a democracy it is only right that government of the day gets to leave its stamp on judiciary as well. Since judges remain on the bench while governments change, over time different shades of opinion will be represented in the judiciary.
The parliament now needs to expressly make a provision reasserting its supremacy in the matter. To ensure government doesn’t appoint totally unworthy candidates, there could be a requirement of judicial appointments being subject to confirmation by parliament, after a due hearing in a bicameral committee of MPs. In any case the collegium just needs to go.. ”
The judges have sent the ball back to Parliament where it will come up for discussion on 3rd November.
“This is a judgement that affects ALL our lives so everyone must raise their voice against it, even non legal professionals. It is there for everyone to see how our legal standards have fallen and the system is collapsing”.
But Srhirang also added ” that once having been appointed judges, some have come up with superlative performance; that cannot be ruled out… but still, the system of their selection must go”.