The Supreme Court Bar Association, represented by counsel Dushyant Dave, ripped into the Collegium system of judicial appointments on Wednesday, blaming its “give-and-take” culture for a perceived fall in judicial standards.
At one point during his arguments, he suggested that the five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice J.S. Khehar, walk the corridors of courts to get a first-hand account of the deterioration in the judicial system.
He said there was discrimination between the haves and have-nots. “While politicians and actors get instant relief from courts, the common man struggles for years for justice.”
Mr. Dave said what happened during the last 20 years of the Collegium system could not be digested. “Letters sent to Chief Justices are not replied to ... Young lawyers get humiliated in courts every day,” he said on the “amount of arrogance” the judiciary has managed to accumulate during those years.
The Bench responded by observing that there was a tendency to focus on a few bad judges when there were thousands of judicial officers and judges who worked day and night for the justice delivery system. Justice Khehar pointed out that judges too came from the Bar to the Bench. “You gave us a lecture, why don’t you tell us how the present system could be improved,” Justice Khehar asked Mr. Dave.
The senior advocate was urged to give written submissions on ways of improving the system.
The Centre further argued that courts did not have the power to judicially review the procedure of Parliament.
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi was responding to arguments that Parliament did not have the legislative competence to pass the NJAC Act in August 2014, as the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, incorporating the NJAC into the Constitution, received the presidential assent after ratification only on December 31, 2014.
Countering this, Fali Nariman, counsel representing the lead petitioner, Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association, submitted that the judiciary had the power to adjudicate on whether Parliament amended laws within the framework of the Constitution.