The Chief Justice of India (CJI), D Y Chandrachud, has defended the Collegium system of judges appointing judges, which has been a source of contention between the government and judiciary. Speaking at the India Today Conclave 2023, the CJI said that the judiciary had to be protected from outside influences if it was to remain independent. He acknowledged that the system was not perfect, but described it as the best available for ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
Law Minister criticises Supreme Court Collegium for revealing government reasons
The CJI responded to criticism from Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, who had voiced displeasure over the Supreme Court Collegium revealing the government’s reasons for not approving the names recommended by it for appointment as judges of constitutional courts. Rijiju has been vocal in his opposition to the Collegium system, which he has described as “alien to our Constitution.” The CJI acknowledged that differences of opinion were inevitable, but called for such differences to be dealt with in a manner that reflected “robust constitutional statesmanship.”
CJI denies government pressure on judicial decisions
The CJI also denied any pressure from the government on how to decide cases. He pointed to the recent judgment by the Supreme Court on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and election commissioners, which the President did on the advice of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India. The CJI said that in his 23 years as a judge, no one had ever told him how to decide a case and that the Election Commission judgment was proof that there was no pressure on the judiciary.
What is Indian Collegium
The Indian Collegium is a system of appointing judges to higher courts, such as the Supreme Court and High Courts, in India. It is a system where a committee of top judges makes recommendations to the President or Governor for appointments, transfers, and promotions of judges. The Collegium consists of the Chief Justice of India and four other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. The system was introduced by a series of Supreme Court judgments, beginning in 1993, and has been the subject of ongoing debate and controversy.