Justice J Chelameswar today refrained from making any comment over the delay on elevation of Chief Justice K M Joseph of the Uttarakhand High Court as a judge to the Supreme Court whose name was recommended by the apex court collegium two months ago.
He said though there has been a delay in the appointment of Justice Joseph and senior advocate Indu Malhotra as judges of the apex court, the collegium has not reiterated the same.
Justice Chelameswar, who was speaking on ‘Role of Judiciary in Democracy’ at an event here, was asked that despite two months since the recommendation of the collegium, the two names have not been forwarded by the government for their appointment.
When asked whether the government was averse to elevating Justice Joseph as he had held as wrong the 2016 decision of the central government to impose President’s rule in the state which was then ruled by the Congress, the judge refused to mince a word and just smiled and gestured.
On Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s recent view that there was a need for an audit of the collegium system, Justice Chelameswar replied in affirmative, saying “Yes. In a democratic society, periodic audit is necessary to see whether all the systems are progressing on the right lines or not. No system created by human beings can be perfect. There have been some lapses somewhere. There could be mistakes.. It’s always necessary and good to take auditing of the system”.
He also spoke on the tension between the government and the collegium on the issue of Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges, and said the MoP was supposed to the finalised between the CJI and government after consulting with the senior most judges.
“If the purpose of the government and the collegium is to find out the most suitable candidate for the post, I don’t think there will be any difficulty. If the government thinks the elevation of any judge to the top court poses any danger to national security, all the government has to do is to list out the details on the basis it has come to the conclusion. I don’t think any collegium would be so unreasonable to reject the government’s opinion if it is supported with material. The collegium is a body of shifting mass. We hold it on trust of the nation for the people,” Justice Chelameswar said.