Transparency in collegium couldn`t have helped: CJI

Outgoing CJI said transparency in collegium couldn`t have prevented controversy on appointments.

New Delhi: Outgoing Chief Justice of India K
G Balakrishnan today brushed aside the suggestion that
transparency in the collegium`s decision would have helped in
avoiding recent controversies relating to appointment of
judges for the Supreme Court.

"Not at all," the CJI said adding the present system of
appointment of judges will continue until a better system
comes into place.

"This (collegium system of appointment of judges) is
based on the decision of the Supreme Court and until the
Supreme Court decision is modified, we have to go by that," he
said in an interaction with legal correspondents on the last
day of his office.

Justice Balakrishnan, who has consistently maintained
that the office of CJI should be kept out of the purview of
RTI Act, disagreed with the view that he wanted immunity from
ambit of the transparency law.

The CJI, whose three-and-half-year tenure, witnessed some
controversies including that on the proposed elevation of
Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, was of the
opinion that the procedure for appointment of SC judges could
be reviewed for a better alternative.

"It could be reviewed if the country needs the better
system (on appointment of judges for higher judiciary). If
Parliament thinks so, there can be a better system. There is
nothing wrong in reviewing it. We need not stuck up," he said.

However, he refused to be drawn into controversies
relating to Justice Dinakaran, whose elevation to the apex
court was dropped, saying Parliament has already started
impeachment proceeding against him.

"I don`t want to talk about Justice Dinakaran. There is
an impeachment proceeding pending. The matter is looked after
by a separate committee and the Vice President has appointed a
committee", he said.

The CJI said the thinking process is there to deal with
the errant judges and government is in the process of bringing
Judicial Accountability Bill which is before the select
committee of Parliament.

He was responding to a question whether there was a need
for some mechanism to deal with erring judges, particularly in
the light of aspersions cast on some judges.

"That is why the government is thinking about bringing
the Judicial Accountabilty Bill that has been sent to select
committee or some expert body. All thinking process is there,"
the CJI said.

He said "halfway" mechanism is often criticised. Judges
are not like ordinary govt servants. If integrity of a judge
is doubtful, we cannot censure him or warn him or suspend him.
It should be the end of his career. So, that is why halfway
methods are not suitable for judiciary.

Asked if he was against impeachment, Justice Balakrishnan
said, "No no, I am not against it. Ultimately, impeachment is
decided by Parliament. It is members of Parliament who decide.
That is why it is criticised in England also. It is ultimately
a political decision. I am not against it.”

Justice Balakrishnan disagreed with the view that he
wanted immunity from ambit of the transparency law.

"I never wanted any immunity from the RTI. I give so much
information. So many information Supreme Court has given.
Somebody has said that the Supreme Court has given the highest
number of answers to the RTI questions. We don`t have any
petty matter at all," he said adding he did not favour any
amendment in the transparency law.

Maintaining that the whole issue was for protection of
independence of judiciary, he said the problem was there on a
limited issue relating to the reputation and dignity of the
office.

"Only in a very very small area we have got problem. That
is regarding information of CJI for some details that is
normally cannot be divulged as it will affect the reputation
and dignity of office of somebody else or the independence of
the judiciary - that is we are trying to protect. We are bound
to protect the interests of the others and also to protect
independence of judiciary," he said.

He said that otherwise the apex court was giving all
information under RTI Act and it would be misleading to
suggest that it was averse to divulging information

"We are giving all information," he said.
Speaking on a wide range of issues, the CJI said there
was no serious cause of concern for him during his tenure and
there was no unhappy situation and any serious mistake in
particular.

He refuses to comment on the issue of reservation in
judiciary saying his expressing an opinion will have some
effect in future.

"I don`t want to express any opinion. The issue of
reservation comes to the court in some form or the other.
My expressing an opinion will have some effect in future", he
said.

Asked about the setting up of special courts for
prosecuting terror-related case like Mumbai attack, Justice
Balakrishnan said he had written a letter to the Prime
Minister for creating 600 CBI courts across the country.

He said the matter was looked after by the Law Ministry
and state governments also have to find out how to set up such
designated courts.

When his attention was drawn to recent incidents of
honour killings and Khap Panchayat demanding amendments in
law, the CJI described such incidents as social issues.

"Such cases might come before the court..... There are
certain prohibited relationship in Hindu Marriage Act. You are
youngsters. It is not law that prompts one to get into love
relationswhip. Once we are in love, obviously they don`t mind
personal law. So law amended or not... these are social issues
and opinions vary from people to people", he said.

Asked to speak on the delay in cases involving
influential persons like in Ruchika Girhotra molestation case
involving former Harayan DGP S P S Rathore, the CJI said it is
only in some cases the trial takes longer time.

"There are some cases in which longer time takes due to
influence by accused or undue interference by counsel by way
of interlocutory application. Otherwise, ordinary cases do not
take long time for disposal", he said.

-PTI