Chief Justice of India R M Lodha today said there should be mutual respect among judiciary, parliament and executive each of which should be unhindered by "extraneous influence" in comments that came a day after Parliament scrapped the collegium system of appointments.
"I am sure that people in Judiciary, people in Executive and people in Parliament are mature enough to have mutual respect for each other and ensure that each of them is permitted to work in their sphere unhindered by any extraneous influence," Justice Lodha said after unfurling the tricolour in the Supreme Court premises on the occasion of independence day.
He said Constitution makers made it sure that all organs of the state operate in their respective field without encroaching upon each other's domain.
Notwithstanding reservations of judiciary, Parliament had yesterday cleared two bills providing for a new mechanism for appointment of judges to higher judiciary by scrapping over two-decades old collegium system.
In his speech, he referred to appointment of less than 1000 judges to higher judiciary by the present system of judiciary appointing judges but did not elaborate or refer to the proposed judicial appointments commission being put in place by the government.
Apparently responding to criticism over inordinate delay in the justice delivery system, Justice Lodha noted that while judiciary is responsible for appointing less then 1,000 judges (of SC and HCs), the state governments appoint 19,000 judges in lower courts.
Giving a break up, the CJI said the present collegium system appoints 906 judges of the High Court and 31 to the Supreme Court.
"As head of judiciary, my heart feels pain when I find criminal justice system has given tremendous suffering, pain, exploitation of human rights and deprivation of human liberty," he said, adding, that majority of prisoners in jails are undertrials.
"It is curious and tragic paradox that prisons are housed more by undertrials than convicts," he said while noting that in central prisons more than 50 percent inmates are undertrials and in case of district prisons the figure is more than 72 percent.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was present at the function organized by the Supreme Court Bar Association, said sanctity and independence of judiciary will be held high.
"Our government's commitment to the sanctity and independence of judiciary is complete and we hold it very high," Prasad said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told him from the very start to ensure that outdated laws are scrapped.
"Till now 36 outdated laws have been shortlisted and their repeal bills are pending. I will ensure that in the next session of Parliament around 200-300 outdated laws will be repealed. I am pursuing the matter," Prasad said.
Asking the Law Minister to consider increasing the number of judges to increase judge-case ratio or judge-population ratio, Justice Lodha said that government should also provide technology tools to police, prosecution and judicial officers to speed up the justice delivery system.
"Police don't have tools and they can't handle cyber crimes. There are deficiences in prosecution and as a matter of fact their is delay in justice delivery system," he said.
Instead of throwing tantrum, the chief justice should accept parliament's decision with humility. Parliament only partially restored constitution provision for appointment judges, which was entirely executive business. Not only the collegium system is unconstitutional, but there is no precedence anywhere in the world that judges appoint judges. Imagine MPs and MLAs appoint next generation of MPs/MLAs. District magistrates appoint fellow magistrate. That too in secrecy. The chief justice thinks people are so stupid.
But, if the judges commit crime (i.e. corruption), it is the job of the executive to prosecute them. The judiciary can not be trusted to police itself - we have already seen how badly this works.