Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani on Monday said the collegium system of appointing Supreme Court judges should be revisited to include the Executive in the process, as reports of corruption, nepotism, favouritism and other ills have been gaining ground in the judiciary.
In his latest blog posting, Advani cited views of retired Supreme Court Judges Rumal Pal and J S Verma as well as the Law Commission report to insist that the present collegium system -- comprising the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court -- is not adequate.
Advani suggested that the Executive should have a role in the appointment and transfer of judges to bring in checks and balances.
"These days, the issue most discussed in the country is corruption. There was a time when all talk of corruption was related only to the Executive -- to politicians and bureaucrats. No one talked of corruption in the judiciary, certainly not in the higher judiciary. Things have changed in recent years," he said.
Advani quoted Justice (retired) Pal who said in a memorial lecture that seven deadly sins afflict the judiciary and listed corruption as one of them.
"Lately, a perceptible change has come about in the standards of judges selected," he said.
The BJP leader said Justice (retired) Verma had also suggested that there is a need to do a rethink on the present system of appointing judges.
Advani referred to the Law Commission’s 214th report, submitted in 2008, which states, "In all other Constitutions either the Executive is the sole authority to appoint judges, or the Executive appoints judges in consultation with the Chief Justice. The Indian Constitution has followed the latter method."
Justice Verma states that the role of the Executive has been "completely eliminated and excluded".
Advani cited an observation of the Law Commission which said, "The Indian Constitution provides a beautiful system of checks and balances under Articles 124 (2) and 217 (1) for the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts where both the Executive and the Judiciary have been given a balanced role. It is time the original balance of power is restored."
The BJP leader maintained that appointments to high judicial offices in the world's largest democracy must be transparent, fair and based on merit. He said Justice Pal had termed the appointment process of Supreme Court judges as "possibly the best kept secret of the country".