In the backdrop of the controversy over a move to elevate Karnataka HC chief justice P D Dinakaran to the Supreme Court, several legal luminaries, including Fali S Nariman, today questioned the functioning of the collegium system for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary and favoured changes in the mechanism.
Nariman, a noted constitutional expert who has been in the forefront of the campaign against elevation of Dinakaran, said, there is too much ad-hocism in the functioning of the collegium due to which the Supreme Court has lost much of its prestige.
"Most important thing before appointing any judge to the higher judiciary is that all possible inquiry is made against the person and only then he or she should be recommended," Nariman said at the annual Kailash Nath Katju memorial lecture here.
He said "the care and caution is lacking these days" in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
Agreeing with Nariman, former speaker Somnath Chatterjee said there is a need to bring changes in the mechanism of appointment of judges.
He said the legislature and executive should play their role in the appointment of judges.
In an apparent reference to Justice Dinakaran, Chatterjee said, it would have been a "disaster", had the judge been elevated to the Supreme Court.
"Because of the protest of some concerned advocates, he was not appointed as the judge. The appointment could have been disaster for the judiciary," Chatterjee said, adding that "time has come when the Executive and the Legislature should also play its role in the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary".
He said judiciary has to explain the enormous vacancy and arrears of cases.
Speaking on the occasion, senior advocate K K Venugopal, said there is no country in the world where the Executive is sidelined in the appointment of judges.
"In no other country, the Executive is excluded from appointment of judges and there are some country where only the Executive decides the issue," Venugopal said.
He proposed that an autonomous commission, comprising members from government, judiciary, legislature and people from different streams, should be constituted who will decide appointment of judges in the higher judiciary.
Nariman, Chatterjee Question Collegium System
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