There is a feeling that senior judges and the Chief Justice should have been given their due, Delhi Bar Council chief K C Mittal said on Thursday. He was speaking at a full court reference held at the Delhi High Court to bid farewell to Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who will be sworn in as a judge of the Supreme Court.
All 39 judges of the high court and various Bar leaders of different courts in Delhi were present at the reference, which appreciated Justice Khanna for always being “very polite, considerate and reasonable”.
“Having said that (appreciation for Justice Khanna), I will be failing in my duties if I do not put on record the feelings of the members of Bar keeping in view the recent developments. There is a feeling that senior judges and the Chief Justice should have been given their due, but destiny nobody can change,” Mittal said.
Amid a row over their elevation, the Centre on Wednesday appointed Justice Khanna and Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari to the Supreme Court as recommended by the apex court’s collegium. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will administer the oath of office to the two judges on Friday.
Justice Khanna, who termed his elevation a “surprise” for him, said: “My elevation to the High Court in 2004 was after a long gap of my name going up and down. But I do not have any regrets or feeling about it. I think I joined the bench at the right time.”
He said that the judiciary must uphold the highest level of integrity in all actions and a critical element in achieving or receiving a fair and impartial justice is judicial independence.
The Delhi Bar Council chief, however, said, “It is time to make some observations about the collegium system.”
“Some of the sitting judges of the Supreme Court (who are now retired), and as per the Constitution bench judgment, the collegium system must be transparent, accountable and objective, to maintain credibility. It seems nothing has happened so far in this direction, so much so, even memorandum of procedure has not been finalised,” Mittal said. “Question is not about individual, but the institution. It is high time to streamline the system to obviate any kind of grievance or discomfort.”
He added, “The State Bar Councils and Bar Council of India are actively considering the work on these lines. In fact we were working on issues like legal education, legal aid and academy for lawyers, to bring qualitative changes in the legal profession, with the help of Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and other senior judges…”
Justice Menon, whose name was earlier recommended for elevation by the apex court collegium, congratulated Justice Khanna and said that he had “discharged his duty with utmost honesty and sincerity” and gave “quality judgments”.
Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra welcomed the elevation, saying “life has come full circle for the Khanna family”. he explained, “Being superseded as the seniormost judge in the Supreme Court, Justice Hans Raj Khanna promptly resigned from the court and now, after more than four decades, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, his nephew, because of sheer hard work, simplicity and intellect is all set to grace the highest office of CJI immediately after Justice D Y Chandrachud’s tenure gets over.”