‘Collegium system: solution worse than the disease’

Justice Shah questions “unusual system” of judges appointing judges

July 03, 2014 03:18 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:24 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Law Commission of India chairman Justice A.P. Shah lauded Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha’s move to invite distinguished members of the Bar as judges of the highest court.

Referring to the recent controversy over the recommendation of Gopal Subramaiam, Justice Shah said “I personally feel this was a significant step by the CJI. In the past, we had only a few occasions like this. It should not happen that this episode [the recent controversy over the recommendation of Mr. Subramaniam] will become a setback … lawyers may not consent [to join the Bench] because of this controversy.”

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu , he said the Judicial Appointments Commission was a step in the right direction to free judicial appointments from “inappropriate politicisation.” “Ultimately, the rationale of having the Commission instead of the collegium system is to strengthen the quality of appointments made, promote diversity and sustain public confidence in judicial system,” Justice Shah said.

But the Bill in its current form remained silent on transparency and offered no role to the civil society in judicial appointments. “The mere setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission cannot solve the problem of the present system of appointment of judges,” he stressed.

“The inception of the collegium system was well-intentioned. In all fairness, it did solve the problem of excessive executive interference. But on the whole, the collegium system is a solution which has proved much worse than the disease,” Justice Shah said.

“Judges are today chosen on undisclosed criteria in largely unknown circumstances. Justice Ruma Pal [a former woman Supreme Court judge] remarked that it is one of the best-kept secrets in the country. The system is completely opaque,” Justice Shah said.

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