Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan says it will not be possible to change the collegium system of appointment of judges without reviewing two Supreme Court judgments.
(The collegium method came into being as a result of the judgments, first in 1993 (The Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association case) and then in 1998 by a presidential reference).
In a special interview to The Hindu, prior to laying down office on May 11, Justice Balakrishnan said on Saturday: “We only follow the procedure from these judgments. If the Centre wants to change the system, it must seek review of the judgments, whether on its own or through some other method.”
Asked to comment on a proposal from the Centre suggesting changes in the Memorandum of Procedure of appointment of judges to give greater say to the executive in the appointments and to ensure more transparency, Justice Balakrishnan said: “I received this proposal. I am leaving it to my successor to deal with it.”
He, however, asserted that people who criticised the collegium method were not fully aware that it could not be changed without a review of the two judgments. Otherwise, it would be violative of the directions given in these judgments.
Asked about the need for creating four Supreme Courts of Appeal in four regions and a constitutional court in the capital, Justice Balakrishnan said: “We have to look for some changes in the system, as judges are overburdened. This year, the number of cases filed in the Supreme Court is expected to touch 84,000. Though the disposal rate is correspondingly high, it cannot be continued for a long time. The present system could be continued for another 10 years, and thereafter we must look for some change in the system.”
On the need for enacting a law to curb honour killings, the CJI said that the law alone could not change the situation. “We have got sufficient number of laws. Even if there is a law, if things are done clandestinely, what can be done? What will you do if persons concerned are ostracised by society. What is required is society must change. Anyway, it is for Parliament to decide [whether] to come out with legislation or not.”