My Suggestions To Department of Justice: Collegium System Should Not Make Citizens Feel Cheated!

Supreme Court is determined to improve the face of collegium system!

Supreme Court is determined to improve the face of collegium system!

I came to submit my suggestions before Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, honouring the intentions of Supreme Court aimed at improving the collegium system. It has asked the government to seek suggestions from public and Bar Council of India. Interestingly, as I came to flip through news items in the aftermath of sending my suggestions, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction that my views were well-within the ambit of concerns of other top-notch legal experts grappling with issue of elevating standard of collegium. The Supreme Court eager to ensure transparency feels that a permanent secretariat for collegium would prove handy. It’s also all prepared to improve the complain mechanism against the candidates besides ensuring a perfect methodology to determine candidate’s eligibility.

It’s certain that on this sensitive matter views of legal experts are bound to be divided. Fali S Nariman pointed out the flaws in present collegium system in quite strong terms. He seemed to be highly frustrated the way members of colleguim circle turned a deaf ear to concerns of right voices!! “The Dinakaran episode told us that there was lack of receptivity in the collegium. If a responsible member of the bar wants to tell the collegium about a person being considered for the post of a judge, why should the collegium members not hear him out.” ( Fali S Nariman, The Times of India )

Justice Chelameswar who has left everybody stunned with his strong condemnation of present days colleguim system sounds harsh yet very genuine in regard to reforms in this direction.  “To assume or assert that judiciary alone is concerned with the preservation of liberties and does that job well, is an assumption that is dogmatic, bereft of evidentiary basis and historically disproved… To wholly eliminate the executive from the process of selection would be inconsistent with the foundational premise that government in a democracy is by chosen representatives of the people. The records ( information shared among collegium members )  are absolutely beyond the reach of any person including the judges of this court who are not lucky enough to become CJI. Such a state of affairs does not either enhance the credibility of the institution or good for the people of this country” ( Justice J Chelameswar, The Times of India )

Collegium System Is Still The Best Method!

Collegium System Is Still The Best Method!

However, former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, is adamant about highest level of confidentiality regarding deliberations among collegium members! ” The moment information gets leaked about a person being considered by the collegium at the Supreme Court or the high court level, immediately, vested interests swing into action. They launch a motivated campaign to deride and defame the person in the zone of consideration. The person who is awaiting a final word about his appointment as judge from the collegium suffers greatly in silence. Collegium meetings have to be conducted in absolute secrecy. Names of persons being considered by the collegium for the post of judges should never be leaked out. It unnecessarily puts the candidate’s reputation in peril.” ( Gopal Subramaniam, The Times of India)

The opinion seems to be strongly divided. The ball now lies in the Supreme Court. We all eagerly await its final words in this regard. My suggestions are pretty simplistic in tone since I am quite aware of the fact that legal bodies would have sent enough cumbersome ideas!! For instance, I had a look at the suggestions sent by Save Indian Family Foundation ((SIFF) fighting for the welfare of men in India. Few of them appeared to be well-carved suggestions but  certain ideas were outrageous and flabbergasting. Overall, this institution fighting for the cause of men did a good job.

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My suggestions are as follows:

1. There should be thorough scrutiny of the credentials of the candidate. It should be ensured at the very first stage that names recommended represent the best minds.

2. Though it’s a good idea that there should be fair representation of women and SC/ST quota, it should be ensured that it in no way compromises with the merit. The point is that merit should be the criteria instead of adhering to notion of fair representation in rigorous way.

3. If possible let us citizens be made aware of criteria/qualification on which the final selection got made. There should be maximum transparency, and minimum confidentiality. It’s the notion of confidentiality that has created maximum damage in the field of judiciary. The point is that if at any stage it’s found that there is something fishy about final selection, there should be a mechanism to prevent the entry of wrong person in league with doubtful credentials.

4. It should also be ensured that whistle blowers who dare to expose wrong names should not be targeted.

5. It’s a redundant practice in field of law that only heirs of big lawyers or lawyers enjoying patronage of judges get recommended and thereafter selected! This practice should stop. Let those names be recommend who truly represent the legal values.

6. This may sound an abstraction but I feel that let those lawyers be recommended who have genuine inclination towards rule of law and natural justice instead of making way for lawyers who have simply dry understanding of rules and regulations.

( The Writer Of This Post Is Advocate Associated With Allahabad High Court, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. )

Let's Hope Reforms Initiated By Apex Court Ensure That We Get The Best Judges!

Let’s Hope Reforms Initiated By Apex Court Ensure That We Get The Best Judges!

References:

Supreme Court Regarding Nature Of Collegium
Fali S Nariman On Collegium System
Justice Chelameswar On Collegium System
Gopal Subramaniam On Collegium System
Suggestions By Save Indian Family Foundation

Pics Credit:
Pic One
Pic Two
Pic Three

8 responses

  1. Early Birds On This Post🙂🙂🙂

    Rajesh Vakharia, President, Save Indian Family Foundation, Nagpur, Maharashtra; Rekha Pandey, Mumbai; Pushpendra Singh, Uttarakhand; Sanjay Kaushik, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh; Jayant K. Bhadaury, Tel Aviv, Israel; Ajay Kumar Sharma, Churu, Rajasthan;Saravana Pandiyan Advo, Supreme Court’s Advocates Association Of Yogesh Saxena, Facebook, Chennai, Tamil Nadu; Vijay Sharma; Durgashankar Shukla; Jaya Vishawakarma; Himanshu Bharadwaj;Mgmow Kailash, Pune, Maharashtra; Prasoon Suryadas, USA; Mohit Pathak, Lucnow, Uttar Pradesh; Rajendra Mishra,Activist/Journalist, Chunar, Uttar Pradesh; Ravi Hooda, Canada; Radhakrishna Lambu, Edinburgh University, UK; Bhumika Gupta, Kota, Rajasthan; Deewaker Pandey, New Delhi, and Rahul Pandey, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

  2. Deewaker Pandey, New Delhi, said:

    It would be very difficult. The Supreme Court is also prone to human error and bias!!

    *************
    Author’s Response:

    Always put your best foot forward….That’s all!!

  3. Rajesh Vakharia, President, Save Indian Family Foundation, Nagpur, Maharashtra:

    Very Nice🙂

    *************
    Author’s Response:

    If you came to appreciate it right in the beginning then I have every reason to pat my back!! I did my job. Even SIFF made some thought-provoking suggestions. Hope government acts in a judicious manner.

  4. Amlesh Vikram Singh Yadav, सीनियर सब एडिटर, दैनिक जागरण, रीवा, मध्य प्रदेश:

    लगभग तीन हज़ार लोगों ने ही सुझाव भेजे हैं.जिनमे आप भी शामिल हैं. आपके सभी सुझाव अच्छे लगे खासकर पॉइंट २ और ४ . फिर भी ये बहुत जटिल मुद्दा है. कुछ लोगों ने एग्जाम का सुझाव दिया है. mera मानना है कोई एग्जाम किसी की योग्यता का पैमाना नही हो सकता विधि ज्ञान के साथ कैंडिडेट की आनेस्टी और मोरालिटी का रिकॉर्ड भी एक पैमाना हो सकता है.|

    **************
    Author’s Response:

    धन्यवाद अमलेश जी ….आप जैसे जागरूक पाठक ने अगर सुझावों की सार्थकता को एंडोर्स किया तो कही ना कही वे सही ही होंगे …वैसे इसकी भूमि अपने उन अनुभवों ने तैयार कि जिसे मैंने कोर्ट लाइफ में महसूस किया …उम्मीद है सरकार जितने भी सुझाव पहुचे है उन पर सही तरीके से विचार करेगी…वैसे कोई भी बदलाव आसानी से नहीं आता ..लेकिन इससे अपने प्रयासों में कोई कमी नहीं आनी चाहिए. …

  5. Rubi Dogra, Teacher, New Delhi:

    Keep it up!! superb!!

    ***************
    Author’s Response:

    Thanks! I keep doing all the things which fall within the ambit of my abilities!!

  6. Bharti Rajasthan, Ajmer, Rajasthan:

    My suggestion:

    Written examinations are best criteria for selection of best and quality candidates. So written examination must be conducted for becoming a judge in High courts and only performing judges of High courts should get a chance to be at Supreme court ( no direct appointment to Supreme Court ). Eligibility for High Court judges should be at least 3 years experience of district and session judge or at least 20 years of practice as a advocate in any court!

    ***************
    Author’s Response:

    Like to inform you that there is no such thing as direct appointment to Supreme Court! All Supreme Court judges are pretty experienced ones. Even the ones at High Court level are quite experienced.

    I am not in favour of examination ( although theoretically it sounds good) since it would be initiation of another cumbersome process!! At this level one has loads of experience!! The only thing needed is to introduce the best minds in unbiased manner. The best minds can easily be traced by noticing their court room behaviour for a prolonged period!! Unless we come to encourage and sustain good minds there can be no fruitful change!!

    Just for your information…Government already conducts exam like Higher Judicial Services!!

  7. Bharti Rajasthan said:

    Senior advocate Uday Umesh Lalit became the sixth lawyer on Wednesday to be directly elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

    The previous list of five lawyers appointed as Supreme Court judges are: Justice S.M. Sikri in 1963; Justice S.C. Roy who was appointed in 1971 died after holding the post for four months; Justice Kuldip Singh in 1988, after a gap of 15 years; Justice Santosh Hegde in January 1999 and Justice Rohinton Nariman in July this year.

    ***************
    Author’s Response:

    This is informative!! Such a trend should be used sparingly!!

  8. Prasoon Suryadas, USA, said:

    I didn’t limit myself to collegium😛 I really want such a strict system because justice system shows the strength of a nation.

    https://prassoon.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/suggestions-for-improvement-in-collegium-system/

    ***************

    Author’s Response:

    Well done!! Some of the points are really very impressive!! Hope the essence of these points gets added to the framework suggested by the Supreme Court!! Rule of the law or natural justice should be at the helm of affairs. That’s all.

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