Process of appointment of judges cannot be ‘hijacked’: CJI TS Thakur

The CJI said the "powerful and assertive Parliament" tries to assert for a greater say in the matter of judicial appointments.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published:December 1, 2016 10:19 pm
CJI, Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur, appointment of judges, Courts, Supreme court, Judges appointment, Judiciary, Judges vacancy, Judges, National Judicial Appointments Commission, NJAC, India news, indian express news Referring to Article 144 of the Constitution, TS Thakur said that it itself mentions all authorities in the country must act in aid of the judiciary. (Source: File photo)

Amid the judiciary-government tussle, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Thursday asserted the process of appointment of judges cannot be “hijacked” and judiciary needs to be independent as it plays a role in the eventuality of a “tyrannical regime”. He also made it clear that judiciary cannot depend on executive in choosing judges. He said judiciary must be independent regarding internal matters of judicial administration, including assignment of cases to the judges within the court, as unless there is an independent judiciary, the rights which are conferred by the Constitution would be “meaningless”.

The remarks, made by the CJI while delivering the 37th Bhimsen Sachar memorial lecture here on ‘Independent Judiciary – Bastion of Democracy’, assume importance in the wake of mounting tension between the judiciary and executive over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary as both the organs of the State have been blaming each other for the increasing vacancies of judges and to remain within a ‘lakshmanrekha’.

Justice Thakur, who will be demitting office of CJI on January 3 next year, said the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act 2014, which was struck down last year by the Supreme Court, was an attempt which would have affected the independence of judiciary.

He added the “powerful and assertive Parliament” tries to assert for a greater say in the matter of judicial appointments.

Asserting that independence of judiciary was paramount for a democracy, he said judiciary cannot depend on the executive for discharging its duties and since the government was the “biggest litigant”, one cannot say that executive can choose the judges to hear a case.

Referring to the NJAC verdict by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar who will succeed him as the CJI, Justice Thakur said, “The recent decision by the constitution bench striking down constitutional amendment by which NJAC was supposed to be set up also goes into all these aspects.”

“It discusses how the court cannot have a situation where independence of judiciary gets affected by reason of appointment process being hijacked. If you have the Law minister and two nominees of the government in the panel that is going to appoint judges, the court saw this as an attempt to affect the independence of judiciary,” he said.

“The powerful and assertive Parliament tries to assert for a greater say in the matter of judicial appointments. An attempt to take away from judiciary the power to appoint judges was seen by the judiciary as an attempt to affect the independence of judiciary.

“Constitutional amendment seeking to set up NJAC was one such attempt. It was seen as an attempt that would affect the independence of judiciary,” he said.

The CJI further said, “Judiciary must be independent as to the internal matters of judicial administration including the assignment of cases to judges within the court. Who should hear which case should not be decided by anybody except the judiciary.”

“You cannot say the executive will choose its judges. Judiciary must have complete freedom in assigning as to who would be the judges who will decide a case,” he said.

Referring to Article 144 of the Constitution, he said that it itself mentions all authorities in the country must act in aid of the judiciary.

“There is no option for statutory or non-statutory authorities except to fall in line. Judiciary is a guard who is always on the lookout like a watchman. Keeps its eyes open, that is the role judiciary plays against a tyrannical regime.”

“This country has seen many ups and downs. Over the past 60-70 years, we have seen judgements full of situation in which the executive has gone far beyond its legitimate sphere. If you have to protect the citizens against tyrannical regimes, you need a judiciary. The entire chapter on Fundamental Rights will be rendered meaningless without an independent judiciary.

“Principle of independence of judiciary was not meant for personal benefits of judges but was created to protect humans against abuses of power,” the CJI said.

He said that everything is regulated under Constitution and appointment of judges is no exception.

“The Supreme Court has had many occasions to interpret this provision of appointment of judges. The much-maligned collegium system has also been evolved while interpreting this provision,” he said.

“If you talk of independent judiciary, you cannot have a judiciary which will depend on the executive for discharge of its functions. Judiciary must have complete freedom to decide who should be the judge to hear a matter,” the CJI said.

He said that issue of promotion of judges must be based on objective factors and the question of accountability of judges on ethical and professional behaviour must be dealt by a fully impartial organ ensuring due process of law.

“If the proceedings against judges are taken up by the politicians or bureaucracy, it would seriously infringe upon the independence of the judiciary,” he said.

Thakur also said that the judiciary is a “guardian” of the rights of the people and government has to respect judgements given by the judiciary.

He also advocated for complete separation of judiciary from the executive.

Besides Thakur, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar also addressed the gathering.

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  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Dec 1, 2016 at 8:33 pm
    At a time when more than a billion pockets, most of them helpless, have been picked just in one go, does the process of appointing judges stand any chance of not being hijacked?lt;br/gt;Lest we all should forget that after almost 41 years, the "Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai" days are here again!
    Reply
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      Arcayp
      Dec 1, 2016 at 7:33 pm
      The Contempt is invasive into everything sacrosanct in a Democracy- Judicial system, RBI, CBI, Opposition, Parliament. Divisiveness is pervive whether it is against poor, farmers, retired Army officers, tribals, Lower caste, minorities. India seems to be convinced with Modi's Jumlas and eyewash. Save India.The Contempt is invasive into everything sacrosanct in a Democracy- Judicial system, RBI, CBI, Opposition, Parliament. Divisiveness is pervive whether it is against poor, farmers, retirThe Contempt is invasive into everything sacrosanct in a Democracy- Judicial system, RBI, CBI, Opposition, Parliament. Divisiveness is pervive whether it is against poor, farmers, retired Army officers, tribals, Lower caste, minorities. India seems to be convinced with Modi's Jumlas and eyewash. Save India.ed Army officers, tribals, Lower caste, minorities. India seems to be convinced with Modi's Jumlas and eyewash. Save India.The Contempt is invasive into everything sacrosanct in a Democracy- Judicial system, RBI, CBI, Opposition, Parliament. Divisiveness is pervive whether it is against poor, farmers, retired Army officers, tribals, Lower caste, minorities. India seems to be convinced with Modi's Jumlas and eyewash. Save India.
      Reply
      1. S
        Shankar
        Dec 1, 2016 at 10:41 pm
        All brahmins are hereby asked to call Thakur a !
        Reply
        1. S
          Shankar
          Dec 1, 2016 at 5:24 pm
          This CJI Thakur has his own agenda which is not allowing Brahmin dogs domination to continue in Judiciary. Therefore he is a definite .
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            ams
            Dec 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm
            Cha@@@ dis are out in full force now trashing even the CJI.. ch @@ dddiyon, nothing more expected from you...
            Reply
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              Ajay G
              Dec 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm
              This is very serious.
              Reply
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                anil bharali
                Dec 2, 2016 at 12:01 am
                PM Modi has been trying to convert Democratic Republic Indian to a colonial Wesminister type of democracy by MI6 agent RSS dominated BJP party in the power and to hijack consutional right...
                Reply
                1. A
                  anil bharali
                  Dec 2, 2016 at 12:01 am
                  PM Modi has been trying to convert Democratic Republic Indian to a colonial Wesminister type of democracy by MI6 agent RSS dominated BJP party in the power and to hijack consutional right...
                  Reply
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                    Arun
                    Dec 1, 2016 at 6:17 pm
                    Independence of judiciary was paramount for a Democracy. As such Govt should not have any role in appointing judges of SC/HCs directly or indirectly.At the same time our Judicary must see as how Aam Aadmi gets justice in time.This has been neglected by Judiciary, resulting no one likes to enter lower court for justice.It must also see that there is no role for Muscle ande money power of celibrities,Politicians and corrupt Bureaucrats.
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                    1. A
                      Arun
                      Dec 1, 2016 at 10:46 pm
                      It is advised Modi Govt not to finger with Judiciary specially Law Minister Prasad. It is very true our judiciary is not for common man but for corrupt and dishonest people with their muscle and money power.But still people have some faith in Judiciary when it comes between Executives(Govt) and Judiciary.
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                      1. D
                        Dash
                        Dec 1, 2016 at 8:44 pm
                        judges have lost respect due to this guy's silly behaviour. who has hijacked the process? the judges themselves.
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                        1. B
                          BIMAL CHANDRA
                          Dec 1, 2016 at 11:11 pm
                          Hon'ble Chief Justice of India is right when he talks of independence of judiciary, but at the same time it is also correct that absolute freedom to judges in lower judiciary has badly hampered the administration of justice to the common people of India. The higher judiciaries including the apex court are also responsible for the dela administration of justice. They can not abdicate their responsibilities. In any case the most sufferers of the tussle between the govt. and the supreme court are the people for whom the judges are appointed. Both organs of democracy must me ertive to the benefits of the people and not for any sort of egoism.
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                          1. D
                            Dinesh
                            Dec 1, 2016 at 6:45 pm
                            After Misusing CBI, Police, Military, ACB, NIA, IT, now Despot in Power wants SC too under his control to impose Emergency and turned himself a full dictator.
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                            1. G
                              Gopal
                              Dec 1, 2016 at 5:54 pm
                              Notice that in this diatribe there is not a sliver of recognition about the mive problems that bedevil our legal system - crores of cases piled up, docket manition, some cases aren't heard for years while others are heard on 15-minute notice, judges taking long summer vacations. He talks about courts protecting the rights of the people – instead what we have is the courts protecting the rights of the criminals. It is hard to listen to this lecture and not conclude how totally out of touch our elitist judiciary is.
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                                jayaram reddi
                                Dec 1, 2016 at 9:08 pm
                                Supreme court or any other court has nothing to do with the process of appointment of judges. The courts have no business in the appointment of judges.
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                                1. K
                                  Kirit
                                  Dec 1, 2016 at 10:01 pm
                                  Mr. Thakur, lt;br/gt;Anybody who have hijacked appointment is Supreme Court. So stop being stupid and loud mouth. Spend your time delivering justice to common people.
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                                  1. K
                                    Krish
                                    Dec 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm
                                    People do wonder as to how the CJI can say that only the Judges hold all virtues of honesty and all others may not be. In fact one of the Senior Judges himself has erted that the actions of the Judges Collegium need more transparency and by no stretch of imagination he can also be called less virtuous. What we need is a balance of thoughts and utmost transparency and he CJI may probably agree that while the Judges may be extremely honest and independent they should also appear to be so to the layman and I think that trust is not fully felt among many. Krish
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                                      ANIL
                                      Dec 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm
                                      The Collegium was working on a 'QUID PRO' system, if you see most of the Judges appointed are related to previous Judges or Chief Justices. They were coming from certain families only. India is a country of 125 Crore people. The recommendations have to be from the Elected Government of the day. Only they have the mandate. Jai Hind!!!
                                      Reply
                                      1. M
                                        mumbikar
                                        Dec 1, 2016 at 11:14 pm
                                        calm down CJI, soon all the uneducated ruling party members will produce fake law degrees with years and years of experiment in kangaroo courts and set they thugs free.
                                        Reply
                                        1. C
                                          Chakraborty N
                                          Dec 1, 2016 at 5:25 pm
                                          Bureaucracy is down with threat of corruption. Govt first tried ban on NDTV, then attack by Jailtley on journalism and now blocking Judiciary !!
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                                          1. R
                                            Raju Menon
                                            Dec 1, 2016 at 5:07 pm
                                            In very few countries, SC justices are selected based on seniority and by SC collegians. I think SC is not ready to reinvent itself under the flaky argument of hijacking system. In US, SC justices go through the judiciary committee public hearing.
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