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Disappointed that collegium resolution not made public: Justice Lokur(Lead)

New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) Former Supreme Court judge Madan Lokur on Wednesday expressed disappointment over the collegium’s December 12 resolution elevating Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Rajendra Menon to the top court not being made public and advocated “tweaking” the collegium system.

Overruling the collegium’s December 12 decision of which Justice Lokur was a part, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna were on January 10 recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court (SC), superseding as many as 32 other judges, triggering a major controversy.

As former and sitting judges expressed their reservations about the judges being superseded, the Narendra Modi government on January 16 elevated both Justices Maheshwari and Khanna to the SC.

Participating in an interactive session here, Justice Lokur, who retired on December 31, did not hide his disappointment.

“It does disappoint me that the resolution passed on December 12, 2018 wasn’t put up in public domain. Usually resolutions are always put on the (SC) website, but why it wasn’t put up, I don’t know,” he said.

Asked what made the collegium change its decision, Justice Lokur said he was not privy to the “additional material” that could have led to the collegial change its mind.

While observing that the Collegium system was the best bet under the current circumstances, he did admit it had certain limitations and said there was a need to tweak it and bring in improvements.

“Like any other system, its needs tweaking. The system needs to improve, there has to be a timeframe that must be strictly adhered to,” he said adding that it was public knowledge that government on many instances has sat on the collegium’s recommendations for months.

Pointing out that the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) was silent on many aspects including the eligibility criteria of the judges, Justice Lokur said there was an urgent need of discussing the issue of improving the system, with the government and stakeholders.

While denying the existence of nepotism or influence in the collegium system, he admitted that there were instances of decisions reflecting “arbitrariness”.

On the issue of judges accepting post retirement assignment, he said there were laws that mandated that retired judges and retired chief Justice of India could only be the chairperson of NHRC and other commissions.

“If all judges start declining such posts, then who will run these commissions?” he asked.

He also dismissed the hype made over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the SC and having met judges.

“Do you want judges not to see the face of the Prime Minister?” said Justice Lokur when asked to comment on the issue.

“A judge shouldn’t be expected to be in ivory tower or live like a hermit. I don’t think there is anything wrong in Prime Minister either visiting the SC or meeting judges,” he said.

On a question on why there has been no appointment of a Dalit judge to the SC in the last 8 years, Justice Lokur said: “There was no one senior enough to be appointed”.

He also opined that criminal defamation law and the sedition law should be done away with and lamented the lack of discussions on making the justice delivery system quicker and more accessible.

–IANS
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