Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on Friday responded to strident criticism against the Collegium system of judicial appointments, saying the government and the Supreme Court cannot work together to select good judges if they find fault with each other.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, who was sitting on the dais at the Law Day Eve function, had recently launched a relentless attack on the Collegium system, calling it "opaque".
The CJI said the Collegium and the government had to work with a sense of "constitutional statesmanship".
"We cannot be constitutional statesmen when we are into finding fault with each other. We need to work as constitutional statesmen to find good judges," the CJI said as he turned to Mr. Rijiju.
The Chief Justice said the Collegium, like any other institution in a democracy, was not perfect. "But we work within the existing framework of the Constitution as it is interpreted and given to us. All the judges of the Collegium, including me, are faithful soldiers who implement the Constitution," he addressed the criticism against the Supreme Court Collegium.
The CJI's remarks came even as the week had seen lawyers in Gujarat and Telangana protesting the proposed transfers of two High Court judges by the Collegium.
The Chief Justice said the Collegium's work did not start when the agenda for the meeting was prepared. An idea might be sparked over a cup of tea. The work of the Collegium starts much before and much after the Collegium meetings. He termed this the "soft culture" within the judiciary.
The Chief Justice said the quest to find good people for the judiciary might not begin and end by reforming the Collegium.
"When you need good people in the system, the answer lies in mentoring young people… People become judges for a different reason. People become judges because of sense of commitment to public service," the CJI said.