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The Union Law Minister while giving an interview to 'All India Radio' said, "Judiciary is fully involved in the appointment process that is why I have stated that pendency of the cases is somehow related to the strength of the judges".
On being asked where the current collegium system lacks and how the reform will improve the system overall, the Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday while giving an interview to ‘News On AIR’ (All India Radio) said that 'Collegium' duties are taking away the precious time of Judges and that the Judiciary is fully involved in the appointment process.
“Judiciary is fully involved in the appointment process. That is why I have stated that pendency of the cases is somehow related to the strength of the judges and also the collegium system has in a way taken away the precious time of the judges of the High Court and Supreme Court,” he said.
Referring to the Second Judges Case, whereby the Collegium System was introduced, Rijiju said that prior to the same, the Indian Constitution was very clear that the Judges should not be involved in the appointment process.
The Law Minister added that the main problem with the appointment of the Judges is a lack of understanding among the Judiciary and other stakeholders, of the spirit of the Constitution, which states that judges will be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
"The main problem with regard to the appointment of the Judges is lack of understanding, among the Judiciary and other stakeholders, of the spirit of the Constitution...Supreme Court of India is the final arbitrator of any matter, and any judgment passed by it becomes law of the land,” the Union Law Minister said.
He said that the question is since courts' decisions are final, should the judges be involved in appointing the next judges?
“The Constitution is very clear that the president of India shall appoint judges in consultation with the Chief Justice... There could be some consultations with other stakeholders...consultation also means effective consultations, it’s not mere formality to seek opinion and concerns. In 1993, in the Second Judges case, when the Supreme Court with a full constitutional bench undone the Constitutional Provisions and created the Collegium System," Rijiju said.
Rijiju added that the Collegium system is working since 1993, “My basic question and concern is that the judges are there to deliver justice from the benches, they are extremely busy to study the case and to give the award. If the judges are involved or they are given the job of identifying judges, which is basically an administrative job…It will definitely have an adverse impact on their duty as a Judge. So, the administrative process is not the duty of the Judges, it is up to the government.”
The Union Law Minister further stated that but today the judges who are in the collegium and all other judges who are directly or indirectly involved in the appointment process remain extremely busy, because the collegium system has made the senior judges extremely busy in picking up the names of the next judges to be appointed.
We will abide by the Collegium System till its prevailing, though the process is questioned, the Law Minister further said.
Rijiju also clarified that if the Supreme Court tries to change or dilute the procedure, as agreed between the Government and the Judiciary, then it would be a 'problem'.
In November, Rijiju had spoken about the Indian Judiciary and collegium system. He had said,
"Constitution is very clear that the President has to appoint the Supreme Court and High Court judges in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. The Constitution is supreme but when the Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Commission Act 2015 we respected it and did not act on it but that does not mean we will be silent forever. We don't want to show anything which will portray us in a situation where there is a confrontation with the judiciary and the government is not in terms of the judiciary. We are on good terms with the judiciary and judges know that the law minister is not against the judiciary or judges. We are part of the same team and three different organs of the same state".
The Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju was in conversation with India Today at a Conclave that was held in Mumbai.
The minister while expressing his views on the Collegium System and appointment of judges had said that:
“I am not satisfied with the present collegium system and the majority of the judges agree with me and that is a fact. I am not saying anything contrary to their beliefs. If you are a consultee judge in the collegium then the basic fault in the system is that you will recommend those names who are acquaintances to you and who are known to you. You will not recommend someone who you don’t know. The fault in the system is that you don’t recommend them even if he is a qualified, fit, and, good judge for the High court and Supreme Court. The fittest of the person should be elevated and not the person who you know”.
The Minister while making a contrasting observation about the global judicial appointments as opposed to the Indian Judicial System of appointment had questioned, "Should Judges spend more time on delivering justice to the system or should they spend more time in the administrative process?”
The Union Minister had also advised the judges to not indulge in oral observation and speak through their orders. He had said, “A judge should speak through his judgment. Oral observations have no bearing. My advice is- don’t come into a situation where you will invite criticism. Whatever you have to do, do it with your order.”
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