Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley called for urgent reforms in the judiciary on Saturday, saying the institution has failed to attract the best talent.
Speaking at the BK Ray Memorial lecture in Bhubaneswar, Jaitley said fewer people in the judiciary are inclined to work as judges because of the increase in the income of lawyers who find commercial litigation in a post-liberalised India more lucrative.
Though the BJP leader called the system of collegiums effective, he felt it's time to review the system as it has become prone to favouritism when it comes to appointment of judges. At present, the collegium is a system under which appointments and transfers of judges are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
In his address, Jaitley favoured the creation of a National Judicial Commission to handle issues of accountability of the judiciary.
The leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha said, "I am deeply concerned with the fact that in several high courts appointments have been made where the best have been ignored and undeserving have been elevated. The National Judicial Commission will have to follow an objective criteria which is statutorily defined."
The National Judicial Commission should comprise of senior judges of the Supreme Court, the law minister as a representative of the executive and some eminent public persons (people with legal background or otherwise) who could be appointed by a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
He said, "We are currently following the process of in-house accountability of judges. Judges appoint judges, judges judge judges. The jurisdiction of accountability needs to be shifted to the National Judicial Commission. It is only extreme cases which involve impeachment of an errant Judge the said proceedings will be required to go before the Legislature."
Jaitley also said he was in favour of increasing the retirement age of judges at the level of the Supreme Court and the high courts. "I am however opposed to the present institution of post retirement jobs to the judges except in very rare cases. The tendency to man all tribunals and vest certain executive functions to retired judges has created an impression that a large number of judges expect a post retirement assignment almost as a matter of entitlement."