Presser by 4 Supreme Court judges has not served purpose: Ex-CJI R M Lodha

New Delhi: Last year’s press conference by four senior-most judges including Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has not served its purpose and instead the concerns raised at it like functioning of the Collegium for appointment of judges for higher judiciary have aggravated, a former CJI said on Wednesday.

Justice (retd) R M Lodha, who was the CJI from April 27 to September 27, 2014, was critical of the decision of the five-member Collegium headed by CJI Gogoi to bypass senior judges and recommend the elevation of Justice Sanjeev Khanna of the Delhi High Court as a judge of the Supreme Court. Former CJI said that he was surprised to know that a junior judge was recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court, superseding senior judges.

“What I always feel is that the Collegium should act in a transparent manner, and reasons must be forthcoming why the decision was an upturn. There must be transparency. I have always believed that the Collegium works as an institution. It is an institutional body; it is not an individual’s decision. If the consultation or communication between the Collegium was lacking, that could have been done. A junior judge was superseded to the Supreme Court, it surprises me,” former CJI Lodha said in an exclusive interview to ANI.

Talking about the Collegium, he said: “The Collegium is a matured body, comprising of the CJI and four senior-most judges. It is a very strong, powerful, matured and intellectual body and every decision taken by the Collegium must reflect its maturity.” He said in the controversial media briefing of January 12, 2018, the present CJI as the second senior-most judge, had raised a litany of issues against his predecessor Justice Dipak Misra and the appointment of judges for higher judiciary was one of them.

The concerns remain the same. Rather, they seem to have aggravated by this exercise (recent recommendations). I don’t think there is any change. At least it is not visible to the public at large. It has not served its purpose because we don’t find the changes which the press conference wanted to have really taken place,” Justice Lodha told PTI.

The other judges at the press conference – justices J Chelameswar, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – have since retired.
When asked what could be the future course of action, Justice (retd) Lodha said if the Collegium has sent the recommendation then the ball is in the government’s court and now unless the Collegium calls its back, it seems unlikely that anything will change.

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