Saturday, June 28, 2014

High Court Judge



High Court Judge

We all know that the Supreme Court and High Court Judges are very important constitutional authorities in India who enjoy a very superior, important and pivotal position in the affairs of the State. We also know that they enjoy immense power and authority bestowed to them through Constitution and the various other legal provisions.

It is well known that the High Court and Supreme Court Judges are selected through a process which is widely known as the Collegium system. Here the names for High Court Judges are recommended by the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, who along with a few of his senior colleagues, recommends the names which go through a process where the further scrutiny of names are made by another Collegium consisting of the Chief Justice of India and other senior Judges of the Supreme Court. Names for Supreme Court Judges are initiated directly by the superior Collegium consisting of the CJI and senior Supreme Court Judges.

Without going into the merit and/or demerit of the system, I would like to quote two examples which would make it pretty obvious how a very large section of society possibly perceives this present selection process.

A few months ago I was posted with an IPS officer, slightly senior to me in the seniority ladder, whose son was doing the 5 year L Lb course from a prestigious law institution. One day when we were discussing his son’s career, he said that he was thinking of inducing his son to the practice side instead of joining a law firm. The reason he gave was that if the son remain in practice side, he would definitely ensure the young man’s elevation to the High Court considering his personal clout and the contacts he has with people in power. This IPS officer was pretty sure that his numerous powerful contacts would easily ensure a High Court birth to his son because in his opinion, most other elevations were made in the same manner, where the only thing counted was contacts at the right place, which he thought he also had plenty in number.

As a second example a day before yesterday, an old friend who is the publisher and editor of a medium size Hindi daily came to our house. During discussion the issue of his younger daughter’s career cropped up. He said that he was thinking of sending his daughter to law stream. The reason given was that since his daughter would have an advantage of being a Shia Muslim, along with being a woman, it would not be difficult for him to use his immense contacts and professional clout to get her appointed as a High Court Judge.

These two examples only go to prove that whatever resistance might be there from with the judiciary to any proposed change to Collegium system, the general perception possibly is that anyone with contacts can manage to get appointed to the High Court. If this perception were not so widely prevailing, an IPS officer and a senior editor would not have so casually and so seriously said so. I can say with full authority that they dare not say or think the same about making their child an IAS or IPS officer or sending to IIM or IITs because they think that the procedure is such that does not allow extraneous push and pull and nepotism.

As the principle of natural justice says, justice shall not only be done, it shall seem to be done. In the same manner, possibly a very strong element of transparency in appointment system needs to be made in the higher posts of judiciary, where everyone knows why Mr A or Mr B actually got appointed to High Court or Supreme Court and why Mr C,D, E and the rest got eliminated. As long as this situation of transparency is not achieved, every second influential person in the society will go on thinking and spreading the canard that he can get his son or daughter appointed to the High Court, as if this is the easiest job available in the market.

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