Legal Correspondent

The present closed system doesn’t attract meritorious persons

No worthwhile improvement in filling vacancies; involve Executive in choosing judges

CJI rejected Tamil Nadu proposal on court language “without considering benefits to poor”

NEW DELHI: A Parliamentary Committee attached to the Ministry of Law and Justice has found fault with the present system of appointment of judges by a collegium in the High Courts and the Supreme Court, and called for a transparent procedure.

In its 26th report submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, the panel, headed by E. M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, said that in the present system there was no worthwhile improvement in filling up vacancies in the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

“The committee, therefore, calls upon the Ministry to come forward with an alternative like the pre-1993 arrangement by involving the Executive, instead of allowing the judiciary alone to choose the judges. The aspirants should be allowed to apply and appear before a selection committee.

“The closed system prevailing now is not getting meritorious persons called to the Bench.”

Why secrecy?

The committee said: “Transparency, inclusiveness and merit should be the way of appointing judges. Till the warrant of appointment is issued by the President, it is maintained a secret. It is against democratic principles. The aspirants’ names, merit and selection process should be made public and transparent, through the High Court and Supreme Court website. The report, at various levels in the Departments of Justice and Home and other stages, should be on the website of their departments till the final stage of issuing the warrant of appointment.”

The committee did not agree with the views of the Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, in rejecting Tamil Nadu’s proposal to make Tamil court language in the Madras High Court.

The CJI had said: “The Supreme Court and all High Courts should have a common language. English should continue to be the language of the Supreme Court and all the High Courts until in due course Hindi becomes rich and ripe enough to take its place, and regional languages should not be introduced as languages of High Courts.

“If regional language is permitted to be used in orders, decrees and other proceedings of the High Court, it will create difficulties for the judges who may not know the regional language in the discharge of their judicial functions. Translation being a costly affair may not be accurate and may not reflect the true import of the judgment or order of the High Court. This will cause delay in disposal of cases in the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the State of Tamil Nadu would be from outside, as per the policy of the government.”

Karunanidhi’s appeal

The committee said Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi made a representation to the Union Law and Home Ministers for reconsideration of the matter.

“The committee feels that the CJI had rejected the proposal without considering the benefits for those people who are poor, living in rural areas and who cannot afford education and cannot speak any language other than their mother tongue.”

It wanted the Law Secretary to submit an action taken report on the proposal.

Change of names

The committee also impressed on the Centre the need for initiating action to change the names of the High Courts of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta as Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata High Courts in line with the official names of these cities.

“This is an administrative matter and must be carried out as early as possible.”

More In: Today's Paper