The system of a panel of country’s senior most judges (collegium) recommending the names for appointment and promotion of judges has failed, and there is a need to immediately change it, top jurists said on Saturday.
Led by veteran jurist, Fali S. Nariman and former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma, speakers at a gathering of legal luminaries said it was a result of the collegium system’s “failure” that controversial Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran was recommended for promotion, but Delhi HC Chief Justice A.P. Shah was repeatedly ignored.
Senior apex court lawyers, Anil B. Divan and Ashok Desai questioned the delay in deciding Justice Dinakaran’s matter and the Centre’s silence, in presence of Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily.
Nariman said “the gentleman (Justice Dinakaran) should have been dropped like a hot cake,” the moment serious allegations supported by documentary evidence surfaced against him.
“I have no faith in the collegiums system. Its members don’t do their homework on the names of judges being recommended. Justice Dinakaran’s name was recommended by a coterie and nobody bothered to check the antecedents,” he said.
Asked why he was insisting on Justice Shah’s promotion, Nariman said, “I have always been of the firm opinion that he is a role-model for all judges. It is a matter of disappointment and this is only because of the vagaries of our present system...”
Former CJI, Justice J.S. Verma said he would have withdrawn the recommendation to promote Justice Dinakaran, had such an issue come up when he was the head of the judiciary.
“What is important is the institution and not individuals. In case of a reasonable doubt, when you are being forced to order a probe... the best course of action would have been to drop the doubtful name,” Justice Verma said.
He said, “The problem with the collegiums is that they are worried that if there are written proceedings and a particular judge is not promoted due to wrong reasons, then it can be used to prosecute him.”
Justice Dinakaran was recommended by the collegiums on August 27 for promotion to the SC. It had to be put on hold following objections by top jurists, about alleged land grabbing and of disproportionate assets. Justice Shah has been ignored since last two years, and will retire in February 2010.