President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday called for transparency in the appointment of judges, saying the judiciary must reinvent itself through introspection and self-correction.
“The appointment process must conform to the highest standards of probity. Whichever system of appointment we follow, it must operate on well-established and transparent principles to select the best,” the President said while addressing the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Delhi high court.
“No one can meddle in the process,” Mukherjee emphasised in the presence of Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, Delhi high court chief justice G Rohini, and a large number of judges and advocates.
The President’s statement comes a fortnight after the Supreme Court declared the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) unconstitutional and revived the 22-year-old opaque collegiums system under which top five judges appoint the judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts.
The apex court is set to take up the matter further on November 3 to consider improving the collegiums system – criticised by three of the five judges who quashed the NJAC by a 4:1 verdict.
Noting that an autonomous judiciary was a vital feature of democracy, Mukherjee said, “Yet being an important pillar of democracy, it must reinvent itself through introspection and self-correction, as and when necessary.”
The President cautioned the judiciary against judicial overreach while exercising its power of judicial review.
“However, in the exercise of powers by the judiciary, the only check possible is self-imposed discipline and self restraint by the judiciary. The balance of power between the three organs of the state is enshrined in our Constitution. The Constitution is supreme. The equilibrium in the exercise of authority must be maintained at all times,” he said.
As around 300 posts of HC judges remain vacant, the President said that vacancies in judicial positions must be filled up on a priority basis. But expeditious selection must be no ground for sacrificing quality, he added.