The Centre and the Supreme Court on Friday traded charges over the promotion of a judge who hardly wrote judgements while on the bench. The former SC judge is now a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Attacking the 22-year-old collegium system, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi criticised the judiciary for promoting a judge who was a letdown when it came to delivering judgements. During his four-year stint in the SC, he delivered only seven judgments — two of them were concurring, in which he wrote just a “few paragraphs”.
“Can the public not say that as taxpayers we don’t want a judge who delivers just these many judgments?” the AG asked the five-judge bench headed by Justice JS Khehar, hearing a batch of petitions against the proposed National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC).
Justice Khehar brushed off Rohatgi’s objections on the ground that the rule of giving representations to different communities made it difficult for the collegium to decide at times.
Rohatgi, however, said: “Is one big judgement enough, given the lakhs and crores of arrears?” Rohatgi argued criteria should be evolved for appointing judges and that the public must be made aware of it. He said the court could not shift the blame as the collegium “gave him laurel after laurel and elevated him”.
Stepping up the attack on the system, Rohatgi argued: “How can you give representation to such a person to the exclusion of all others (from that community)?”
Rohatgi had support from senior advocate KK Venugopal, who said the NJAC would be a broad-based system to appoint judges. Venugopal, arguing for BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, told the bench that the process would bring about transparency as it considers the opposing views of different classes making up the judiciary, executive and legislature.