PM under lokpal a mistake: ex-CJI
Conceding serious lapses in the current procedure for the appointment and promotion of judges, former Chief Justice of India, JS Verma on Sunday strongly advocated creation of a National Judicial Commission to deal with corruption in the higher judiciary and supported the government's stand to keep the institution out of the lokpal's purview.
"It would be a mistake to bring the judiciary and the PM under the lokpal's ambit," justice Verma told Karan Thapar in the Devil's Advocate programme, telecast on CNN IBN.
"It will foul with the basic structure of the Constitution. Judicial review is a basic feature (of the Constitution)... for which an independent judiciary is essential," justice Verma said.
He said the debate on bringing judges under the lokpal was worrying sitting judges. Justice Verma also termed as "undemocratic", the public threat of Anna Hazare to again go on a hunger strike from August 16 if the Centre did not accept the civil society's demand to bring a strong lokpal bill.
Asked about the demand to bring the PM within the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman, the former CJI replied: "The simple answer is if the PM is covered under ordinary law (Prevention of Corruption Act) you don't need him covered under lokpal."
Asked whether the procedure to appoint and promote judges was correct, he said it was not working properly and required changes. Justice Verma shared a personal experience to prove his point.
"Well, some people who are not considered suitable in my time and I used to consult five including those who succeeded me thereafter, a few of them were appointed soon after I had retired," he said.