'JUSTICE' has become 'COMMODITY' in INDIA ! AND the judges and politicians are biggest 'suppliers and buyers' of the system. Perhaps, it is only because of that both the Supreme Court and Union Government want 'Supremacy and hegemony" in the appointment of judges for both the Supreme Court and high courts for their 'smooth sail' of their 'nefarious activities' to bend or destroy the system for their 'enlightened self-interest'. And the poor people are crying for justice in India. Moot point appears that both the Supreme Court collegium and Union Government have become funniest in one aspect at least-that is to accommodate the relatives , and kith and kin of of both judges and politicians, solely to subvert the Judicial System in the country.
Following the revival of the collegium system after scrapping NJAC,, enacted by the Parliament,of the Supreme Court to appoint judges, the Chief Justice of India Justice Thakur is crying for the approval of the appointment of judges to fill up la huge vacancies of judges in the Supreme Court as well as high courts by the Union Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On the other hand, Union Government is crying wolf that recommendations of the Supreme Court's collegium are binding on the government only if they are backed by consensus among the collegium members.
Amid such controversy, there are sharp differences among the member -judges of the collegium of the Supreme Court over the question in public the lack of transparency in the functioning of the collegium. Recently, one of the members of the collegium Justice Jasti Chelameswar of the Supreme Court became the first sitting judge and member of the Supreme Court's collegium to question in public the lack of transparency in the functioning of the collegium. In a letter to the Chief Justice of India Justice Thakur, Justice Chelameswar refused to take part in the collegium meetings until it evolved a proper procedure to records its minutes. However, in three-page letter, he suggested to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) that the record recommendations of the colleagues be sent to him in writing so that he could record his views and return them to him for onward submission to the government. With such development, Justice Chelameswar's protest against collegium's style of functioning has brought to the surface the resentment within the collegium to the absence of any semblance of transparency and openness in its its decision -making process.
On the other hand, the Union Government is disputing the Memorandum of Understanding for implementing the appointment and transfer of judges of the SC and high courts. The union Law ministry is harping that recommendations of the collegium are binding on the government only if they are backed by consensus. If there is any dissent within the collegium, the CJI is expected to communicate such dissenting views, along with the recommendations to the government. If there is dissent in the collegium regarding a recommendation, the government can ask the collegium to reconsider it in the light of reservations expressed by the dissenting member. The collegium has to reiterate the recommendation by consensus; only then it is binding on the government. In the light of Justice Chelameswar's protest, the union Law ministry is flexing its muscles for confrontation with CJI, resulting into deadlock over the functioning of the collegium.
However, CJI has promised that Justice's Chelameswar's views will be thrashed out. In the process CJI, who is expressing anger over the stand of the Union Law Ministry, has warned the centre that court would consider withdrawing judicial in some cases , at least !
In the meantime, huge number of vacancies of judges is hampering the already worrisome backlog cases. According to the "State of Indian Judiciary:A Report", brought out by Dakash, A Banglore-based non-governmental organisation, there are currently 17,95,036 pending cases in the high courts. Judicial observers compliment Justice Chelameswar for his boldness in seeking the reform of the collegium even while serving on the bench and interacting with the colleagues on a daily basis although they may have been unhappy with him. One reason, surprisingly, mentioned in the collegium that recording the minutes of the collegium meetings is that the grounds for rejecting a candidate should not be made public. Is it not funniest ?
V Venkatesan has written in the Frontline " the collegium system has certain aberrations which have so far evaded public scrutiny. One such aberration came to light when a former CJI, during his term in office, wrote to all the high court chief justices to ensure that when they recommended district judges for high courts, their performances during the previous three years was assessed by a committee of judges other than members of high court judges......."
There are only three vacancies in the Supreme Court with an approval strength of 31, the number of vacancies in the high courts as on September 1 is alarming. The combined approved strength in the 24 high courts is 1,079, which is inclusive of 771 permanent judges and 308 additional judges. Of these, 485 positions are vacant. The number of vacancies include the posts of 268 permanent judges and 217 additional judges. Additional judges not be appointed in a high courts that has vacancies of permanent judges. Currently all the high courts, except that of Meghalaya, have vacancies of permanent judges. The Karnataka and Calcutta high courts have the highest number of vacancies of permanent judges-25 each. The Punjab and Hrayana high courts and the Hyderabad high court have 22 vacancies of permanent judges each. The Allahabad and Bombay high courts have 16 such vacancies each, while the madhya Pradesh and Madras high courts show 19 and 18 vacancies respectively. The collegium system is itself violating its norms, One case is that in Patna High , a few months back that additional judges have been appointed when there is already existence of vacancies of permanent judges!
Apart from that, Poor are left ti fend to get justice while rich and the highest get justice according to their wishes or will. Shall the system survive in the present circumstances in India ? Is it not million dollar question ?
REFERENCESS: THE FRONTLINE FORTNIGHTLY MAGAZINE
REFERENCESS: THE FRONTLINE FORTNIGHTLY MAGAZINE