Upendra Kushwaha said that the Collegium, of which the top five senior-most Supreme Court judges are the members, ignores merit.
Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha has lashed out at the Collegium system of appointing judges, questioning the system that allows judges to appoint their successors and termed the decades-old Collegium system “a bolt on democracy”. The remark by the minister, who was speaking at an event in Patna on Tuesday, comes in the midst of an ongoing tussle between the government and the judiciary over elevation or appointment of judges in the Supreme Court.
Kushwaha said that the Collegium, of which the top five senior-most Supreme Court judges are the members, ignores merit. He said a teal seller’s son can become the Prime Minister but a child from a humble background can never become a judge. “People oppose reservation, say it ignores merit but I think collegium ignores merit. A tea-seller can become PM, a fisherman’s child can become a scientist and later President but can a maid’s child become a judge? Collegium’s a blot on our democracy,” ANI quoted him as saying.
Kushwaha argued that judges appoint their successors and not judges. “According to the attitude of the judiciary, in the present time, judges don’t appoint other judges, they actually appoint their successors.”
“Why do they do that? Why was this made a system to choose successors?” he asked.
The government and the judiciary have been at the loggerheads over judicial appointments for over three years now. The government had in 2014 proposed the National Judicial Appointment Commission through a Bill in the Parliament to replace the Collegium system in appointing and transferring the judges in the higher judiciary. However, the top court in October 2015 struck down the Act and reinstated the Collegium system, thus allowing the five senior-most SC judges to have the final say in the appointment or transfer of judges.
The government had proposed that the NJAC will have two senior-most Supreme Court judges, Union Law Minister, two eminent personalities from civil society as its members. The two members would be appointed by a committee led by the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.