Collegium framework has worked more satisfactorily and very efficiently: Ex-Justice Mukhopadhaya

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Recently retired Ex-justice Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, after retiring as Supreme Court Judge stated that his experience of Collegium system of appointment of judges has worked more satisfactorily and very efficiently. He had served in higher judiciary as a Supreme Court judge for nearly a decade and half. Justice Mukhopadhya’s remarks has come at a time, where parliament and assemblies of majority of states have brought in National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) in place of Collegium system which was popularly known as “judges appointing judges” system.

Mukhopadhaya supports Collegium system as he feel that it has worked from many years, which was put through 2 judgements of Supreme Court in 1990, although he defends this old system he feels that Parliament’s decision about bringing change in this system should be respected. He further stated that he support the system, as he had not heard Intelligence Bureau reporting any single matter, wherein a person appointed under Collegium system was involved in any corrupt activities. Justice Mukhopadhaya further said that he would not comment on issue which was not in his domain but of the Parliament. He also stated that biggest strength of judiciary lies in the people trusting it and thus the trust must be maintained at any cost and it should not lead to distrust. Making laws and put the system in place is the jurisdiction of Parliament and he will not comment on merits of NJAC.

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The government is bringing this new National Judicial Appointments Commission as it is considered that there is lack of transparency in appointment of judges in old system and that it was not the duty of the judges to appoint their comrades but rather decide cases brought before them.

Collegium system that is followed consist of 5 senior judges including the Chief Justice of India who consider the elevation of Chief Justices/Judges of High court to Supreme Court and judges of High Court as Chief Justices. Article 124 which deals with appointment of Supreme Court judges made by President after consultation with judges of High Courts and Supreme Court has been replaced by National Judicial Appointment Commission that has been included in Article 124(2) by the 99th and 121st amendment of the Constitution and The National Judicial Appointment Commission Act has been passed by the Parliament in 2014. Now the matter is pending before the Apex Court regarding the constitutionality of the Act and Article 124(2) and will be listed to 17th of March before a bench consisting of Justices J Chelameswar and Madan B Lokur for further hearing.

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by Sushma Javare.