Wish PM had spoken about appointment of judges: CJI

This is the second time in four days Justice Thakur has taken on Modi govt.

Updated - October 18, 2016 03:10 pm IST

Published - August 15, 2016 12:59 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Taking on the government for the second time in four days, Chief Justice of India (CJI) T.S. Thakur on Monday regretted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not make any reference to delivering justice and judges’ appointments during his Red Fort speech.

“Today you heard our very popular Prime Minister’s speech for one-and-a-half hours as well as the Law Minister [Ravi Shankar Prasad] speech. I was hoping that there will be some reference to the issue of justice, some reference to the appointment of judges,” the Chief Justice lamented.

Poser in open court

On Friday, the CJI asked in open court whether the Centre wanted to bring the judiciary to a grinding halt given the delays in appointment of judges as per the collegium system.

“During British rule, a case could be settled in 10 years. Now, that is not happening. Now, the number of cases has mounted so much, as have people’s hopes that it’s becoming very difficult [to manage the problem],” he said on Monday.

‘Not an area of conflict’

Reacting to the Chief Justice’s remarks, senior advocate Rebecca John told The Hindu, “This [appointments] should not be an area of conflict. If the judiciary has devised a method of appointing judges, the government of the day should respect it till they come to an agreement on another mechanism.”

Justice Thakur also said that his position was clear — inside and outside the court. “I have reached the highest point in my career. I don’t have to go further ahead,” he said.

It was good that the government was talking of removing poverty, giving people employment, keeping the country together, announcing schemes, but it also had to think about justice for the people.

The Chief Justice ended with an Urdu couplet that was aimed at the Centre: “Gul fenke auron par, samar bhi/ E abr-e-karam, e-behr-e-sakha kuch to idhar bhi” (You offered both fruits and flowers to others/O cloud of beneficence, wave of friendship, do bestow something on us).

‘Dragged its feet for long’

In his reaction, senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran said, “The government has dragged its feet for sufficiently long for the CJI to feel the need to voice his concerns publicly. The government might be uncomfortable with the NJAC judgment, but this is the law and the government cannot do a go-slow if it is not reconciled to the collegium system.”

Asked whether the government was deliberately delaying appointments of judges, another senior advocate, Sanjay Hegde, said, “The government’s actions would lend credence to someone voicing this suspicion.”

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