What did Justice RM Lodha did to clear CIC-verdict on judges’ appointment

Kashmir Times. Dated: 10/27/2015 6:02:45 PM

Dear Editor,
It refers to Times Now debate where former CJI RM Lodha now favoured making appointment-process of judges public. Big question is what RM Lodha did for constituting a larger bench as directed by a Division Bench of the Apex Court long five years ago on 26.11.2010 to its registry to decide stay-order dated 24.11.2009 in SLP(C) numbers 32855 & 32856 of 2009 on CIC-verdicts on several aspects also including making appointment-process in higher judiciary public. Now ever since bill on National Judicial Accountability Commission (NJAC) has been struck down by Supreme Court, even members with judicial background have accepted need of making process of judicial appointments. Other aspects under stay include correspondence with Chief Justice of India, In-House procedure etc. It is significant that similar matters were earlier also in open discussion on non-appointment of Gopal Subramaniam as Supreme Court judge and former Supreme Court judge Markendey Katju exposing politicians in interfering in appointment of judges of higher courts. Subsequently a Division Bench of Supreme Court even ordered to make ‘In-House’ procedure at Supreme Court public. RTI response following a CIC-verdict reveals that successive Chief Justices of India deferred constituting a larger bench with comments like ‘Put it later’, ‘Put it after vacations’.
Senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan in the judiciary-legislature debate alleged legislature to be influenced by touts as if no such touts exist on the other side. However he was right that prominence of legislature in panel to select two eminent persons for NJAC will induce dangerous aspect of quota. RTI responses reveal that a former CJI having not considered to chair NHRC had opined ‘Neither Supreme Court nor Chief Justice of India is the appointing or disciplinary authority in respect of judges of superior courts, including judges of High Courts”.
Since it is very difficult to legislate another constitutional bill on appointment of judges, Supreme Court having admitted fault in current system should come out with concrete proposals to refine the system which may be acceptable to government, legal community and above all members of public at large. One way can be to constitute a permanent National Judicial Commission (NJC) with retired Supreme Court judges as member-nominees of Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, Chief Justice of India and Bar Council of India with Chief Vigilance Commissioner as member-secretary of the Commission. This Commission may be the sole authority for deciding transfer and appointment of judges at higher courts. Such a Commission will thus have a judicially-refined say of legislature in appointment of judges. Moreover sitting judges will not have to be over-burdened in looking into complaints against judges which otherwise also adversely affects their judicial task. National Judicial Commission should be the only authority to suggest names of retired judges in all judicial panels/commissions appointed by the centre and/or states.
There should be a ban of two years in post-retirement postings of retiring judges. Even chairpersons of Human Rights Commissions at national and state level should be selected from amongst retired judges of Supreme Court by National Judicial Commission. Retirement-age of High Court judges should be 65 years to be at par with that of Supreme Court judges to effectively check lobbying by some High Court judges for elevation to Supreme Court.
All High Court judges should be compulsorily appointed from outside their home-states to avoid chances of locally-appointed judges being approached/influenced through former bar-colleagues and local relations/friends etc.
—Subhash Chandra Agrawal,
1775 Kucha Lattushah Dariba, Chandni Chowk, Delhi.

 

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