No 'pick and choose', let there be interviews for appointing judges: Indira Jaising

Mumbai: Noted advocate Indira Jaising on Saturday has batted for doing away with the present procedure of appointing judges, wherein the executive has a say. The senior advocate further said that the country must enforce the US-like system, wherein judges are appointed through proper interviews.

Jaising was speaking at the third annual RTI lecture organised by Moneylife foundation.

"Does living under a majoritarian regime have a chilling effect on the judiciary? Do they succumb to 'the will of the people' as represented by the government of the day? What we are seeing is a 'threatened judiciary' when a sitting chief minister can get away with gross contempt of court and humourist are hounded with contempt of court," Jaising said. "Judiciaries are known to collapse when faced with majoritarian governments," added.

In her brief speech, Jaising also compared the "generations" of lawyers right from pre-independent India till date, how the ideologies of advocates have affected the judiciary and so on.

"The US system of appointment of judges at least has the merit of transparency. They are questioned on their ideology on the great issues of our times, the right to abortion, the wall of separation between religion and state and the rights of the LGBT community," she said.

"We are in danger of loosing the secular state and must guard against judges who don’t believe in secularism being appointed by those who represent 'the will of the people'. After all, judges swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and not to the executive," the advocate said.

Jaising accordingly opined that instead of a "pick and choose" process, applications must be invited by aspirants throughout the country and only after an in-depth interview of such candidates, one must be appointed as a judge.

"This may ensure that more women, Dalits and LGBT persons get appointed to the Judiciary. We are one of the most diverse nations of the world, a diversity which is reflected in our religions our languages and culture," Jaising said.

"This diversity is not reflected in the Judiciary as it must be in all institutions of governance. Perhaps then they will be able to perform the role expected of them," she added.

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Free Press Journal