President bats for BJP's all-India judicial service to pick judges

The idea is in voyage for the last five decades but has not been tested

New Delhi: Referring to the issue of judicial appointments, the President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday favoured creating an All-India Judicial Service for the recruitment and appointment of judges at all levels of judiciary, saying that the idea is in voyage for the last five decades but has not been tested.

Reiterating that the independence of judiciary is non-negotiable, and without diluting it to the slightest degree, “Can a better way be found to select judges for the higher judiciary?

For instance, there can be an All-India Judicial Service which can select, nurture and promote the right talent, right from the lower levels to the higher levels.” President Kovind added that there could be other, “better suggestions for reforming the system.” Ultimately, the President said, that “the aim should be to strengthen the justice delivery mechanism.”

The President batting for AIJS assumes significance as on October 16, 2015, a five-judge Constitution bench of top court had struck-down the Constitution’s 99 amendment that had paved way for the creation of National Judicial Appointment Commission replacing the existing collegium system of appointing judges to the high courts and the top court. The National Judicial Appointment Commission had fingerprints of the Central government on it.

In his valedictory address on the conclusion of two-days' deliberation on the 72nd Constitution Day, President Kovind addressed a number of issues including judges making observations, in the course of the hearing of the matters, discomforting the government, pendency of cases, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive working harmoniously and in in unison.

Pointing to the “high bar” that the top court judges have set for themselves, President said, hence, “It is also incumbent upon the judges to exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in the courtrooms. Indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intention, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary.”

To buttress his point, the President referred to a “profound observation” by US Supreme Court judge Justice Frankfurter who had in a judgment said, “Courts are not representative bodies. They are not designed to be a good reflex of a democratic society. Their essential quality is detachment, founded on independence. History teaches that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardised when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day, and assume primary responsibility in choosing between competing political, economic and
social pressure.”

In the recent months, the top court had made some critical observations in the Pegasus matter, handling of investigation in Lakhimpur Kheri in which farmers were mowed down, handling Delhi air pollution and the Centre dragging its feet in judicial appointments.

Removing the smog over the misconception that courts make laws and are responsible for “liberal acquittals and adjournments, Chief Justice of India, Justice N.V. Ramana, took a dig at the investigating agencies asserting that the courts could not be blamed for acquittals due to “faulty investigations”. On frequent adjournments, CJI said that the public prosecutors, lawyers and the investigating agencies have to co-operate in the trial of cases.

CJI Ramana said that attorney general K.K. Venugopal’s suggestion on restructuring the judicial system and altering the hierarchy of the courts to address the issue of huge pendency needs to be considered by the government. He said that since Independence, there has been no serious study to consider what exactly should be the structural hierarchy of the judiciary in India.

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