Breaking his silence on government’s criticism of the Supreme Court judgement restoring the collegiums system of appointing judges, Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said the government was mature enough to accept the verdict.
“Everybody has a viewpoint and it is their right to express it. However, I expect them (government) to respect and accept the verdict,” Dattu told HT. He hoped the government would not react negatively to the verdict.
A day after the SC on October 16 quashed the constitutional amendment and the new law that replaced the opaque collegium system with a panel in which the executive had a say in the judicial appointments, finance minister Arun Jaitley had hit out at the verdict in a Facebook post.
He alleged that “Politician bashing is the key to the judgment…There is no constitutional principle that democracy and its institutions have to be saved from elected representatives,” he had said. A disclaimer at the end of the post read, “The views expressed are personal”.
Dattu declined to comment on the post and said the verdict would pave the way to fill up around 300 vacancies in 24 high courts.
Asked if the SC collegium would sit before November 3, when the constitution bench is to take up suggestions to improve the system of judges appointing judges, Dattu said it was yet to be decided.
“All my senior judges of the SC are travelling. The judgement was delivered just a day before all of them left. So, I shall wait for them to come back, consult them and then take a decision,” he said.
Dattu, however, refused to share personal views on the bench’s decision to invite suggestions to improve the functioning of the collegiums system criticised by some of the judges on the constitution bench for being opaque and ignoring merit. “Let’s wait to see what kind of recommendations come,” the CJI said.
As the head of the judiciary, the Chief Justice of India said he respected the judgment.
Law minister Sadananda Gowda and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had criticised the verdict. “We are surprised by the verdict of the Supreme Court,” Gowda had said.