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Collegium works, no IB graft report on any judge: Ex-justice

Justice Mukhopadhaya said his experience of the collegium system of appointing judges was that it worked 'efficiently' and 'satisfactorily'.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2015 4:01:20 am
Supreme Court,  SC collegium system, SC judges, Supreme Court judges,  National Judicial Appointments Commission, NJAC,  Justice Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, India news, nation news Justice Mukhopadhaya (right) with CJI Dattu at his farewell in New Delhi Friday. (Source: Praveen Khanna)

A day after he retired as a Supreme Court judge, Justice Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya said on Sunday that his experience of the collegium system of appointing judges was that it worked “efficiently” and “satisfactorily”.

He added that he had not come across “a single instance” when the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had reported that a person appointed on the collegium’s recommendation had indulged in corrupt activities.

Justice Mukhopadhaya’s comments come at a time when the government is moving to replace the collegium with the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), arguing that there was a lack of transparency and that the judges’ duty was to decide cases and not appoint their brethren.

“I can tell you one thing, that this system (collegium) has worked efficiently. Like the IB can give reports to the judges about the other details of a person, it can only be judges who can evaluate the merits of a lawyer or a high court judge selected for elevation to the Supreme Court. There is enormous data and information involved in the process and I can say it has functioned satisfactorily,” Justice Mukhopadhaya told The Indian Express.

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When questioned about the government’s move to scrap the collegium system, Justice Mukhopadhaya said he would not comment on an issue which was within the domain of Parliament.

“It is the jurisdiction of the Parliament to make laws and put systems in place. So, I would not comment on the merits of the NJAC. Also, the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court. However, I can speak using my experience that if the talent pool from where persons are selected for appointment remains the same, there would not be much difference in the quality of the judges,” he added.

Justice Mukhopadhaya said that if the IB, an independent agency entrusted with the task of providing information about a person to be appointed as a judge, had filed positive reports all these years, the “presumption was unsustainable” that there was corruption in judiciary.
“I have been a judge for more than two decades. I can say this emphatically that I have not seen even one report by the IB disclosing that the person appointed as a judge is corrupt. How do I presume or assume there is corruption when a government agency, specialised in the task of collecting and scrutinising every detail of a person, does not state anything negative?” he said.

According to Justice Mukhopadhaya, “trust of the people” is the biggest strength of the judiciary. “Our judiciary’s greatest strength is people’s massive trust in this institution. It is manifest from all sorts of cases being filed in the courts for remedies and enforcement of rights. This trust must be maintained at all cost,” he said.

In December 2013, Justice Mukhopadhaya was part of the bench that set aside the Delhi High Court’s verdict decriminalising homosexuality and held that homosexuality or unnatural sex between two consenting adults under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was illegal and would continue to be an offence.

Asked about the case, Justice Mukhopadhaya said that his judgement was “self-speaking” and that he would not want to add anything to it now.

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