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‘Don’t defame judiciary… you do great damage to vital organ of democracy’

CJI defends collegium system, lashes out at 'misleading campaign' to defame judiciary.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: August 12, 2014 8:37 am
Chief Justice of India R M Lodha There is a misleading campaign to defame the judiciary, says Chief Justice of India R M Lodha.

On the day that the government introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges, Chief Justice of India R M Lodha on Monday defended the existing mechanism while lashing out at the “unfair” and “misleading campaign” to defame the judiciary and tarnish its image.

“There is a misleading campaign to defame the judiciary and repeated attempts have been made to spread incorrect information. If there is a campaign to defame the judiciary in the eye of the public, you are doing great damage to a very important organ of the democracy. Don’t shake people’s confidence in the judiciary. For God’s sake, don’t try to defame the judiciary,” said the CJI, presiding over a three-judge Bench which was hearing a PIL related to the efficacy and transparency of the collegium system.

“The world is not perfect. No system is perfect, no one is perfect, the society is not perfect and we all are from the society. We are not perfect. We cannot be, but we are a very important institution in a democracy,” said the CJI. The bench included Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman.

“I am from the first batch of judges selected via collegium and Justice Nariman is the last one to be selected. At present, all the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are products of the collegium system. If the collegium system has failed, then the products too have failed. If you say so, we have also failed and the judiciary as a whole has failed… everything has failed,” said the CJI, adding that the campaign to defame the judiciary is doing a great disservice to the country.

He said repeated attempts were being made to spread incorrect information about the functioning and decisions of the collegium, whereas the judges were more concerned about “the purity of system.”

“Everyone is out to condemn the collegium system, terming it as a failure. As an institution, the collegium has its limitations in selecting persons. After all, judges too come from the same society. But to carry on a campaign just because of allegations against one or two judges is unfair,” said the bench.

The PIL, filed by advocate Ram Shankar, sought details of the collegium meeting that reportedly cleared Justice K L Manjunath’s elevation as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court despite alleged corruption charges, besides scrutiny of the collegium’s decisions in public domain and more transparency.

But the CJI rubbished reports of Manjunath’s elevation, saying, “Who told you the collegium has recommended Justice Manjunath’s elevation? I am the Chief Justice. I head the collegium. We have not made any recommendation.”

Notably, Justice Lodha’s observations came a day after former SC Judge and Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju alleged that he had informed former CJI S H Kapadia and three other former CJIs about corrupt practices by some High Court judges, but they failed to take action.

Questioning Kapadia’s role in not sacking a “corrupt judge” of Allahabad HC, Justice Katju, in his latest blog, said: “In response to my statement, Justice Kapadia has said that he did not remember this. It is strange that he has no recollection of this, but the record would be existing with the intelligence agency concerned, and perhaps also in the official file of the Chief Justice.”

He added, “Justice Kapadia also said that he did not bring any judge to the Supreme Court who was unfit. I may remind him that the Supreme Court collegium, headed by CJI KG Balakrishnan and of which Justice Kapadia was a member, almost succeeded in bringing a totally unfit person into the Supreme Court.”

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  1. F
    Nov 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    If Modi government is keen in reforms in judiciary system then why he failed in Gujarat, no one can make a FIR in police stations on atrocities against muslims and dalits, why most of the advocates resigned in Gujarat and left India. Modi government succeeded to damage Judiciary system in Gujarath. Now it is turn of SC judiciary system. Protectors of the Judiciary system should protect it and do exercises to avoid polluting the fundamental rights of this country. Other wise,it can happen, ruling power doing some thing wrong and judiciary system doing nothing - we see what in India happening. Now-a-days, synonym of political leaders is polluting leaders.
    1. B
      Bharat Raj
      Aug 12, 2014 at 1:57 am
      Of course judicial system has failed; and repeatedly since independence. The common man shudders going to courts due to inordinate delays and lack of transparency of court procedures (all veiled in legal jargon with none to help the poor to decipher). This has made several families suffer for lifetime. If judiciary can't deliver timely justice, it has failed and the responsibility rests with judges and the system of appointing such judges at all levels. Judiciary is not a Divine eny above the society. Even it and it's components are open to scrutiny and change for the betterment of society. No ivory towers for judiciary, executive or any other insution that is in the service of the nation and society. So, the mindset that judiciary is above any scrutiny and change must go. Collegium system hasn't delivered timely justice. So it has definitely failed and needs change.
      1. A
        Arun Maheshwari
        Aug 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm
        The Chief Justice is making matters worse. He should have admitted that there are problems and promised to fix them rather than become defensive and talk rubbish about defaming the vital organ of judiciary. Everyone knows about judiciary being a vital organ. Nobody wants to damage it. People want to undo the damage done by him and other justices, as disclosed by Justice Katju. Respected Chief Justice, please do not sweep the problems under the carpet.
        1. P
          Paul Deepak
          Aug 12, 2014 at 3:20 am
          Nobody is perfect, so am I and so what? I keep doing what is imperfect. Is this a justification of unlawful acts of omission and commision by the guardians of democracy and justice? This atude of all the important and vital goevernment organs, has resulted in India and Indians not being bothered about itself or its own citizens. Nowhere in the world do citizens of civilized countries suffer as much as Indians who make their own to suffer. We still practice untouchability - if you are politician or a well-connected bureaucrat or businessmen nobody can touch you even if hundreds of criminal cases have been filed. Shamelessness and naked corruption in its new avatar.
          1. R
            Aug 12, 2014 at 3:12 am
            Judiciary must first make sure it keeps itself squeaky clean and with high integrity. They have to earn people's respect that they have lost in the past three decades. Even chief justices have indulged in corrupt practices. Balakrishnan and Dinakaran are good examples of corrupt crooks infesting the supreme court.
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