NEW DELHI: Former Supreme Court judge Rohinton Fali Nariman has slammed Union law minister Kiren Rijiju and said that the government sitting on the names of the judges recommended by the collegium was “deadly” for democracy.
“This sitting on names is a very deadly thing against democracy of this country. Because what you are merely doing is you are waiting for a particular collegium and hoping that the next collegium changes its mind. Appointment must be done within a reasonable time period,” Nariman said.”
Nariman was part of the Supreme Court collegium till he retired in August 2021. Rijiju has time and again questioned the collegium system of appointment of judges, noting that it was “opaque and not transparent”.
The retired judge further said that the constitutional principle here was the independence of judiciary and that was crucial for democracy.
Recently, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar said that the striking down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act by the Supreme Court was a severe compromise of parliamentary sovereignty. “We have heard a diatribe by the Union law minister of the day against this process (appointment of judges). Let me assure the law minister that there are two very basic constitutional fundamentals he must know,” Nariman said. “One fundamental is that unlike the United States, a minimum of five unelected judges are trusted with the interpretation of the Constitution. So, this constitution bench is trusted to interpret the constitution and once they have done this it is your bounden duty as an authority to follow that judgment,” Nariman said. “You may criticise it as a citizen I may criticise it no problem but never forget you are an authority and as an authority you are bound by the judgment…right or wrong,” he added.
It was later decided that apart from the CJI, senior judges would also be consulted, Nariman said, adding ultimately, the judiciary took into its own hands the appointment process.
(With inputs from agencies)



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