Close on the heels of the Supreme Court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said no one could meddle in the process of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. He called for adopting the “highest standards of probity” in the process for appointments.
Inaugurating the golden jubilee celebrations of Delhi High Court at Vigyan Bhawan here, Mr. Mukherjee said whichever system of appointment was followed for appointment of the Supreme Court and High Court judges, it must operate on well-established and transparent principles to select the best.
“No one can meddle in the process [of appointments],” Mr. Mukherjee said. The apex court verdict of October 17 has restored the collegium system, under which senior judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts choose members of the higher judiciary.
The President said that expeditious selection must be no ground for sacrifice on quality. “An autonomous judiciary is a vital feature of democracy. Yet being an important pillar of democracy, it must reinvent itself through introspection and self-correction, as and when necessary.”
Mr. Mukherjee said the phenomenon of high pendency must change through multi-dimensional efforts and the courts must have enough resources to boost their infrastructure.
He said an affordable judicial system was a must for a country having many citizens at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. “Quick delivery of justice is the third in the trinity of an effective judicial system, the other two being accessibility and affordability.”
While appreciating the judiciary for enlarging the scope of justice, the President stressed that judicial activism should not lead to the dilution of separation of powers.
Justice Dattu said the judges of the present generation had inherited judicial discipline from illustrious judges of the past. Among others, Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, G. Rohini, Madras High Court Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia were present.