CJI: Collegium decides in national perspective | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

CJI: Collegium decides in national perspective

By, New Delhi
Nov 20, 2022 06:51 AM IST

Speaking at the felicitation function organised by the Bar Council of India (BCI), CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud also warned against a “culture of distrust” against the district judiciary, making trial judges wary of granting bail due to the fear of inviting criticism by the higher judiciary.

With the Supreme Court collegium’s decision to transfer three high court judges sparking protests from lawyers in the states concerned, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud on Saturday underscored that the collegium takes administrative decisions keeping in view the “national perspective”, and added that advocates’ strikes make “consumers of justice suffer”.

CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud (PTI)
CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud (PTI)

Speaking at the felicitation function organised by the Bar Council of India (BCI), the CJI also warned against a “culture of distrust” against the district judiciary, making trial judges wary of granting bail due to the fear of inviting criticism by the higher judiciary. District judges, justice Chandrachud pointed out, must be trusted if the judiciary wants to answer the needs of common citizens and constitutional courts do not wish to render themselves dysfunctional owing to sheer number of bail cases.

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The CJI, choosing the occasion to address the lawyers, said: “It is important for members of the bar to realise that so very often when we take decisions in administrative capacity, we are looking at things in national perspective...Of course, always question those in authority but you must also always learn to trust those in authority to the extent that they have best welfare of them at their heart and for that they have to take tough decisions.”

Stressing the necessity of harmony and balance to maintain tranquility in society, the CJI added: “If we did not take those decisions, it will be like ‘I will have a nice time till the Constitution tells me to retire’. But we all have to make endeavour as to how the country will be better after two years.”

Justice Chandrachud, who headed his first collegium meeting on November 16 after taking the helm exactly a week ago, decided to transfer three high court judges, one each from high courts of Madras, Gujarat and Telangana, for administrative reasons. The move triggered protests from high court lawyers from these states, and several bodies resolved to strike work.

However, Justice Chandrachud, on Saturday, said that every problem can be resolved through dialogue and cooperation. “When lawyers strike who suffers? The consumer of justice, for whom we exist, suffers and not the judges, not the lawyers...Possibly lawyers too since after a few days fee would stop, but greatest sufferer is the consumer of justice,” cautioned the CJI, adding strikes must give way to cooperation in a democracy.

“Lawyers from district will look at it from district judiciary perspective. Members from a high court will look at it from the perspective of that particular high court. But we have to look beyond. I always tell my high court colleagues that the Supreme Court does not reverse your decision because you are wrong, but sometimes view taken by us is in the national perspective,” he further said.

The CJI added that during his two-year term as the head of the judiciary, he would do everything in the interest of preserving the institution of justice and to safeguard the interest of our common citizens.

The protests of the lawyers from three states also did not go down with Union law minister Kiren Rijiju. “Now lawyers are going on strike on some issues. In the days ahead. we may see this more frequently we have to decide whether it is good for the institution or not and if you don’t respect the institution, then you disrespect yourself,” Rijiju, who was also present at the felicitation of the CJI, said. The minister added that if every decision of the collegium, which has the support of the government, is questioned, then it will lead to problems.

On November 16, the collegium initiated the process of transfer for Madras high court acting chief justice T Raja, Telangana high court judge A Abhishek Reddy and Gujarat high court judge Nikhil S Kariel. While justice Raja is proposed to be transferred to the Rajasthan high court, the other two judges have been recommended for transfer to the Patna high court, according to the people aware of the matter.

Meanwhile, the CJI pointed out that the reason why the higher judiciary is getting flooded with bail applications is because of the reluctance of the courts at the grassroot to grant bail.

“And why are judges at grassroot hesitant to grant bail? Not because they don’t have the ability. They understand it probably better than the higher court judges because they know crime is at grassroot level but there is a sense of fear that if I grant bail, will somebody target me tomorrow that I granted bail in a heinous case? This sense of fear nobody talks about but we must confront and unless we do that, we are going to render our district courts toothless and our higher courts dysfunctional,” he flagged.

Calling it a “culture of distrust”, justice Chandrachud wondered why we should distrust someone who grants relief to a citizen.

“If you commit an error, surely that error is amenable to correction. And it is not that we at the Supreme Court, never commit errors. As they always say, the Supreme Court is not final because it is right, but it is right because it is final. The process of dispensing justice is so inextricably human that we have to learn to trust our district judiciary and when we do so we can answer needs of common citizens,” he emphasised.

The CJI also underlined the importance of opening up legal profession to all sections of the society from its current patriarchal and caste-based structure.

“This structure of legal profession, which is patriarchal and sometimes so caste-based, has to change so that we as lawyers discharge our duties to our society to make the legal profession open up to people from different communities and marginsalised groups in our society,” he said.

According to the CJI, a system of equal opportunity for women and the marginalised sections in the legal profession must be put in place now to ensure judiciary has their due representation in times to come. “If we don’t create an equal opportunity judiciary today, then the problems which the marginalized section faces, not just women, will continue to fester in our legal profession decades down the line,” he said.

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