CJI-designate Sathasivam refutes criticism that government has no say in appointments

Chief Justice of India-designate P. Sathasivam on Thursday once again justified the collegium system of appointment of judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court and said he did not agree with the Centre’s criticism that it had no say in the appointments.

Speaking at a function to bid farewell to the outgoing CJI, Altamas Kabir, he said the Centre was criticising the system as if it was disclosing all information about the candidates. Except in few cases, the government was furnishing vague details of candidates, Justice Sathasivam said. There was no point in criticising the system when this was the factual position. Citing an instance when the collegium had to stop the appointment of a person as a judge because of his terrorist links as pointed out by the Centre, Justice Sathasivam asked “in how many cases they had given full information and opinion about the candidates.” He explained the procedure and various steps in the appointment of a judge and said “if there are drawbacks or infirmities they can be looked into.”

He would soon write to Chief Justices of High Courts asking them to set up separate courts for dealing with cases of women and children and cheque bouncing cases. Justice Sathasivam said top priority would be given for filling vacancies in the subordinate judiciary. He wanted to give importance to Lok Adalats for disposal of matrimonial and other disputes.

On steps to reduce the pendency of cases in the apex court, Justice Sathasivam said he, in consultation with brother judges, proposed separate Benches for inter-State water disputes, arbitration appeals and women and children. Underlining the need for adhering to punctuality by all from the munsif court to the Supreme Court, he said he wanted increase in productivity both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Members of the Bar and the Bench gave a warm farewell to Justice Altamas Kabir, who retired on Thursday. He said: “I have enjoyed every bit of my tenure and I leave with a sense of fulfilment. My dream was that each citizen of India must get access to justice and by opening up legal aid centres in every State we were able to achieve this.”

Justice Kabir said “I joined as a judge on August 6, 1990 and after serving as a judge for 23 years, I leave from here as cheerful as I entered.”

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