Judiciary is supposed to be the guarding of the Indian Constitution and an ultimate source of justice. For a long time now, there have been allegations of political interference, corruption and lack of transparency in judicial appointments. These charges have definitely tarnished the image of judiciary. The post-retirement benefits ensued by the judges further created perceptions about the judges and their political linkages becoming important than justice. Controversial comments by former SC judge and the Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju can be debated about its intent and timing but it has provided unique opportunity to bring about radical changes in the Indian judiciary, comparatively which is still a respected pillar of the Indian democracy. Is judiciary a victim of its own ‘activism’ and ‘political outreach’ or just facing the spillover effect of all over systemic deterioration? Whatever maybe the case, the final casualty is ‘judicious’ approach in delivering justice. As the Law Minister said in the Parliament, there is a lot of scope to improve the appointment procedure of the judges. Here is the proposed agenda for reforming judiciary by Justice (Retd.) Rama Jois and Advt Vikramjit Banerjee:
Controversy over Judicial Appointments
Under Article 124(2) and Article 217(1) of the Constitution, a judge of the Supreme Court and that of a High Court respectively have to be appointed by the President after ‘consultation’ with the CJI.
To counter the idea of a committed judiciary introduced by Indira Gandhi during Emergency period, in 1970s and early 1980s, the SC in 1993 devised the collegium system to reduce political interference. This system allowed top judges of the SC to appoint judges of the higher judiciary.
This system has also come under attack for quite some time now with the alleged “give and take” understanding between the government and judiciary.
Two Bills were introduced in the Parliament to reform judiciary. In September last year, the Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013 but it has lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. Another Bill to constitute Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC) is still alive with the Parliamentary Standing Committee.