Outgoing Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam does not mind being the first Lokpal or taking up any other post-retirement job if the decision is taken unanimously and without controversy.
“If it (being made Lokpal) is a unanimous choice, then definitely I will accept it,” he told PTI.
Justice Sathasivam, who is demitting office on Saturday after nine months as the head of the judiciary, said he was not averse to accepting any position after his retirement like NHRC Chief or Lokpal but that has to be without any controversy and it should be “befitting” for an ex-CJI.
Speaking about the system of appointment of judges, Justice Sathasivam favoured continuing with the present system of collegium for appointments to higher judiciary.
“In the present system we appoint judges after proper consultation with the chief justices of respective high courts and also seek opinion of advocates general of the states whenever required. If a person is included from outside the judiciary they may not be having the knowledge of judiciary and that will not be proper in the selection of judges,” he said.
He was replying to a question whether the collegium system should be given up and the executive and the government should have a say in the appointment of judges.
However, Justice Sathasivam felt there should be a fixed tenure of at least two years for the Chief Justice of India like in the case of top bureaucrats in central government.
“There should be at least a fixed tenure of two years for the CJI as has been fixed for Cabinet Secretary and Home Secretary. In two years time, the CJI can do more work than in short period as it takes 2-3 months to settle down,” he said.
Even as he demits office, there was some intense activity in the outgoing government which was planning to appoint a Lokpal but gave up the idea after controversy over its moves at a time when the country was in the midst of polls.
The Chief Justice refrained from making any comments on the issue of sexual harassment complaint brought before him against two former judges of the apex court.
“Since the matter is sub-judice, I am not offering any view on the issue. But I have something in mind which I will write down in newspaper column after the case is decided by the court,” he said.
He said there was need for proper representation of people belonging to weaker sections of society including women and minority in the higher judiciary.
“I have written letters to Chief Justice of High Courts to fill up the vacancies by giving preference to SC, ST, OBCs, women and people from minority communities. I asked them to give them some concession and relaxation on age and other criteria,” he said.
He said that same procedure should also be followed by his successor CJIs but expressed himself against reservation in judiciary.
Mr. Sathasivam’s career as judge spans over 18 years. His stint in the Supreme Court was a total six years and eight months. Earlier, he had served as judge of the Madras High Court and later in Punjab and Haryana High Court before his elevation to the Supreme Court.