Bid To Control Judiciary Has Always Existed, Says Justice Chelameswar
Former Judge of Supreme Court, Justice Jasti Chelameswar on Thursday said an attempt to regulate or have control over the judicial system always existed in democracy and to check such a trend the collegium system came into being.
The retired judge, who was among the four judges of the apex court to come out in the open last year and list out problems in the country’s top court said such an effort from the side of the executive arm of the government had always been there. “The eternal attempt of the executive to regulate or to have control over the judicial system; it always existed in democracy in some form or the other,” he said addressing a lecture.
On quite a few occasions, such attempts have been successful, he noted. The former Judge addressed a lecture on ‘Judiciary at cross-roads,’ held by the Triplicane Cultural Academy and The Kasturi Srinivasan Library.
The effort has always been there, in any country, he said and cited an example from U.S. to illustrate his view. In the U.S., attempts were made to control the outcome in some cases, since it was felt that the top court was interfering in economic legislations, he said.
Referring to an Indian book, he said it dealt with the scenario in the 1980s and how the Government of India then sat on some recommendations on appointments that were not palatable to those in power. Against such a background, the Supreme Court thought that such a trend should be checked and came up with the collegium system in 1993 that gave primacy to the court in matters of appointments, transfers and postings.
Before the collegium system, though there was a possibility to say that the “executive is trying to ride roughshod over the judiciary”, it is not so after the new mechanism was introduced. Rather than constructive criticism of the judgments which is hardly done, personal attack were made against judges, he said.
Citing old cases like the one involving former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister NT Rama Rao which later became infructuous, he said such matters consumed a lot of time. “The point is the enormous time taken for concluding these proceedings....perhaps the Indian legal system could have devised a way of expediting these proceedings.”
Later, fielding questions from the audience, when asked if due process of law was followed in the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre, he declined to comment.