Around 50% of the judges of high courts and 33% judges in the Supreme Court are family members of those in “higher echelons of judiciary”, claims a research done by a Mumbai-based lawyer.
Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, who is a petitioner-in-person, submitted the report to a five-judge constitutional bench hearing petitions challenging the NJAC Act. The situation was a result of the collegium system under which judges appointed other judges, Nedumpara told HT.
He said the Supreme Court’s verdicts in the 1990s resulted in the setting up of a collegium system that “monopolised” appointments to the higher judiciary, where kith and kin, and “former and sitting judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, Governors, chief ministers, law ministers, celebrated lawyers, the elite” are favoured.
According to the report, the Supreme Court has a sanctioned strength of 31 judges, out of which six judges were sons of former judges. The report mentioned appointments of over 88 judges from 13 high courts who were either born to a family of lawyers, judges, or worked under some legal luminaries.
Nedumpara claimed that the source of his information was the empirical data collected from the official websites of Supreme Court and 13 high courts in the months of September and October 2014. He said for other high courts, comparable data were not available.
He alleged that the collegium system functioned under complete secrecy where vacancies in the office of the higher judiciary were neither notified nor advertised.
Appearing for Supreme Court Bar Association, senior counsel Dushyant Dave had on Wednesday attacked the collegium system for ignoring merit and appointing judges who failed the common man and gave relief to only the “high and mighty”.