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Updated on: Sunday, December 26, 2021, 10:52 PM IST

FPJ Legal: Judges appointing judges is a myth, says CJI N V Ramana

He was delivering a lecture on "Indian Judiciary - Challenges of future" at Siddhartha Law College, Vijayawada.
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana | PTI

Chief Justice of India N V Ramana | PTI

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The notion that "judges are themselves appointing judges" is a myth as the judiciary is just one of the many players involved in the process of selecting judicial officers, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said on Sunday.

He was delivering a lecture on "Indian Judiciary - Challenges of future" at Siddhartha Law College, Vijayawada.

At present, there is a Collegium system, which comprises five senior most judges of the Supreme Court. The Collegium is believed to have the final say when it comes to appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts.

However, CJI Ramana feels that there are many players who play a role in the process of appointment of judges, including the Union Law Ministry, State governments, Governors of States, High Court Collegia, Intelligence Bureau and, lastly, the top executive.

All of them examine the suitability of the candidate and singling out judiciary for the same is a widely propagated myth which he said suits the narrative of "certain sections", he stated. "It is nowadays fashionable to reiterate phrases such as, “judges are themselves appointing judges,” he added. Even the well-informed propagate this notion, he lamented.

He also said that in recent times, physical attacks on judicial officers are on the rise and, at times, there are concerted campaigns in the print and social media against judges if parties do not get a favourable order; these attacks appear to be "sponsored and synchronised."

There is also a need to liberate the institution of public prosecutors. Total independence must be granted to them and they should be answerable only to the Courts, he further said.

The law enforcing agencies, particularly the specialised agencies, need to deal with malicious attacks on judiciary effectively, the CJI said, adding that it was unfortunate that unless the court interfered and passed orders, the authorities generally do not proceed with the investigation.

"The Governments are expected and duty bound to create a secure environment so that the judges and judicial officers can function fearlessly," he said.

New media tools have enormous amplifying ability, but appear to be incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, good and bad and the real and fake. Media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases, he further said.

He said historically, prosecutors in India have been under the control of the government.

"Hence it is not a surprise that they do not act independently. They do nothing to prevent frivolous and non-deserving cases from reaching the courts. Public Prosecutors automatically oppose bail applications without independently applying their mind. They attempt to suppress evidence during trial which could benefit the accused," Justice Ramana said.

A holistic rework needs to be undertaken. In order to insulate the Public Prosecutors, an independent selection committee may be constituted for their appointment. Best practices should be adopted after a comparative analysis of other jurisdictions, he opined.

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Published on: Sunday, December 26, 2021, 10:52 PM IST
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