Maintaining that the National Judicial Appointments Commission envisaging a new system of appointing judges was yet to take off, Chief Justice of India, HL Dattu, on Friday said there was no bar on the Supreme Court collegium to select new judges.
“At the moment there is no bar on us (collegium) to recommend names for elevation. NJAC notification is yet to come. The collegium shall meet soon,” he said.He, however, refused to make further comments, saying, NJAC was under judicial challenge. "But, judiciary is never upset with what the government does. They do their job and we do ours," Dattu said.
Last month, the President gave his assent to the NJAC Act that replaces the two-decade old collegium system under which judges appointed judges. It comprises CJI as chairperson, two other senior-most judges of SC, Union law minister and two eminent personalities. But the setting up of the NJAC is likely to take some time.
The CJI praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming him “a good leader, administrator with a good foresight.”
“In my four-month tenure, I have interacted with him four times and the response from his side has been very positive. The incumbent government has so far met all the demands made by the judiciary. Hope the infrastructural issues plaguing the judiciary would end soon,” Dattu added.
The CJI supported the Bar Council of India regulation making it mandatory for lawyers to work in lower courts for five years before practising in the SC. “I am not putting any restrictions but the bar associations should look into this. Experience only makes one better at work,” he added.
Dattu said the apex court should function like the US Supreme Court, which hears only constitutional matters. High courts should be the court of appeal. However, since right of appeal is a constitutional right, it is not possible to stop filing of cases before the SC.
He said the SC would construct and maintain a crèche for women lawyers and employees so that they don’t have to worry about their toddlers.