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‘Judge selection process has failed’

The Govt attacked the procedure for appointment of SC and HC judges saying quality of some of the judges selected over the years was questionable, reports Nagendar Sharma.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2008 01:26 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The Government on Wednesday attacked the procedure for appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges saying "quality of some of the judges selected over the years was questionable."

A day after the Supreme Court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam case involving 35 judges, Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj said the system of selection by a committee of judges (collegium) had failed.

"In a bid to maintain its supremacy, the judiciary tried to re-write the law through a Supreme Court judgement in 1993, which gave them the powers for appointments and transfers. Merit has been ignored, while give and take has thrived in the collegium system," Bhardwaj told Hindustan Times.

"It is time for the Parliament to have a re-look at the judges’ appointments and transfers. The quality of some judges selected by the collegium system over the years has been questionable. Judiciary's insistence on showing itself superior has not helped the country," he said.

The review of judges appointments and transfers was possible, but that would require political unanimity, the Law Minister said.

"I feel now is the right time to have a re-look at the collegium system which has failed, but all political parties would have to agree for that. Let us not forget we are in an era of coalition politics and opinion of every party matters," Bhardwaj said.

Asked in his view what should be the procedure for appointments and transfers of judges, the Law Minister replied : "A committee of judges could recommend names, which should be finalised after discussions between the Chief Justice of India and the President. The decision of the President should be final on the advice of the union cabinet."

Expressing serious concern over the rise in corruption allegations against judges, he said : "There was a time when the judiciary was above suspicion and people had great respect for it. The same cannot be said today, serious allegations of corruption against judges are in public domain. It needs to be corrected."

On the Judges' Inquiry Bill, the Law Minister said the UPA government did not want to rush through the bill. "We want to give judiciary enough time to set its house in order, so that we could discuss with the CJI and other senior judges to include their viewpoint before bringing the bill before the cabinet and the Parliament to make it a law."