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DC Edit | Collegium's opaque ways exposed


Published on: February 9, 2023 | Updated on: February 9, 2023

Supreme Court (File Image)

That a person accused of authoring hate-filled references against fellow human beings is now a judge of one of the oldest courts of justice in this country represents the collective failure of the system responsible for appointments in the higher judiciary.

The blame primarily lies with the collegium system evolved by the Supreme Court with no constitutional sanction and no fool-proof and responsible means to verify the antecedents of the people it recommends for the constitutional posts mandated to dispense justice to all. The Union law ministry which announced the appointment of the person as a judge within minutes of the apex court saying it will consider petitions against the person, and the high court authorities who lost no time in announcing the swearing-in are part of the unseemly haste with which actions followed. The apex court had to almost fight with the Union government to clear its recommendations pending for months and years; but when it came to a person who was an office-bearer of one of the BJP’s frontal organisations, government order and presidential proclamation followed in days! Then come the agencies of the Union government, including the Intelligence Bureau which faithfully scoured social media for years of lawyers recommended for judgeship for anti-government responses and made note of sexual preferences but blissfully missed anti-constitutional, anti-human and anti-social utterances. And finally, the Supreme Court bench which failed to differentiate between political lineage and hate speech and put the ball squarely in the collegium’s court, innocently remarking that it would have considered all the facts before making the recommendation.

There is no escaping the fact that the collegium has all the drawbacks built in an arbitrary system: it is opaque, it has no machinery that can integrate itself with the rest of the parts and very little checks and balances. It’s time we made it more transparent, responsible, just and fair.