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Saturday, January 22, 2022

John Brittas: ‘Judges appointing judges unheard of… there is no diversity’

🔴 Are we creating a system of patronage or give and take. Are we creating an oligarchy?... I am afraid we are creating an oligarchy," John Brittas said about High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amend-ment Bill, 2021. Excerpts from the speech

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: December 23, 2021 7:30:51 am
John Brittas: ‘Judges appointing judges unheard of... there is no diversity’John Brittas (Facebook: John Brittas)

There is a serious lacuna because though we decide on such matters, we have no role in the appointment of judges? Does this exist anywhere in the world?

Absolutely, no! Judges appointing judges is unheard of… There has been a demand for a National Judicial Appointment Commission which should represent judiciary, executive, legislature, bar and the public with provisions of transparency and accountability. Let people know who are going to be our judges and their competence, ability and integrity. Should there be a system shrouded in mystery, secrecy and darkness?

Are we creating a system of patronage or give and take. Are we creating an oligarchy?… I am afraid we are creating an oligarchy. We have judges’ families…. I vouch for the fact that there are brilliant judges with high levels of integrity from judges’ families. But that should be exceptions not thumb rule in democracy, that should be exceptions….

Let me read a profile of a judge which I happen to see at the High Court’s website. Mr. Justice so and so, I won’t mention his name, born on so and so date, belongs to a family associated with judiciary. His maternal great grandfather was Chief Justice of India, his maternal grandfather was a former acting Chief Justice, one of his maternal uncles was a former judge of the Supreme Court, his maternal uncle is a sitting judge of the Supreme Court. It is going on. It is like a long list.

We all talk about dynasty. The BJP members have been very harsh when they talk about dynasty in the Congress party, at least they have passed the test of winning the confidence of the people. This is a clear case of a dynasty. Why are we keeping mum on this?

The government has successfully spiked the appointments of those (judges) who are inconvenient to them…The government has been sitting on the proposals of
collegium whenever they find certain names who are persona non grata for them. Some judges are transferred for unknown reasons as a punishment…. There are cases when the government had not consented to the names by collegium for years despite the fact that the Supreme Court had emphatically stated that once
returned the executive must give consent.

I am sure the key framer of the Constitution and the first Law Minister, Dr B R Ambedkar will be turning in his grave seeing how judicial appointments are made and how the independence of judiciary is tampered with. He must be turning in his grave.

India is a diverse country….The present scheme of appointment ensures that only a particular class is rewarded by the government. A new class is being created. Of course, there are exceptions, I understand. There are brilliant judges who come from judges’ families…. During the expansion of the last Cabinet, it was said to include a sizable number of OBCs, SCs and STs….When it comes to the judiciary, we don’t want such a diverse representation? Should we be oblivious about that? Do you want such representation only in the Cabinet?

Out of 47 Chief Justices of India till date, at least 14 have been Brahmins. From 1950-70, the maximum strength of Supreme Court was 14 judges and 11 of them
were Brahmins…. There is no diversity in the judiciary…. I am not against Brahmins…I am not against any class. I am just completing it. This august House will be shocked to note that till 1980, there was no judge from the OBC in the Supreme Court, in the highest court of the country.

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